Definition of stylus in English:



  • 1A hard point, typically of diamond or sapphire, following a groove in a record and transmitting the recorded sound for reproduction.

    • ‘I also still have every one of the 14 diamond styli that it ever used.’
    1. 1.1A pointed device formerly used to produce a groove in a record when recording sound.
      • ‘During this period all the energy available to drive the stylus which etched out the recorded wave-forms was ‘acoustic energy’: that is, it came from the sound waves themselves.’
      • ‘All his recordings were made using the ‘acoustic method’ - singing in front of a large horn, connected to a recording diaphragm and cutting stylus, which cut a groove in a rotating wax disc.’
      • ‘Another stylus was used to play back the recording turning the indentations on the cylinder into sound.’
      • ‘Executed in the same flat, almost naïve style, the stylus emerges from the right hand side almost threateningly, bearing down on the record.’
  • 2An ancient writing implement, consisting of a small rod with a pointed end for scratching letters on wax-covered tablets, and a blunt end for obliterating them.

    • ‘The small number of numerical symbols was, to a large extent, controlled by the method of writing numbers using a blunt stylus with a circular section to impress marks on wet clay.’
    • ‘Writing first on heavy clay with fragile reed styluses led the Sumerians to simplify their drawings.’
    • ‘The next significant development began around 3,100 B.C. when a pointed stylus was used to incise pictures of tokens in clay tablets instead of impressing the tokens themselves.’
    • ‘A metal stylus was used for scratching characters onto a wax tablet.’
    • ‘He seized his stylus and scratched twenty coppers from the total on his tablet.’
    • ‘Using a reed stylus, they made wedge-shaped impressions on wet clay tablets which were then baked in the sun.’
    • ‘It is said to have developed originally as a means of writing with a stylus on palm leaves, which would split if incised with a straight line.’
    • ‘The symbols were pressed into soft clay tablets with the slanted edge of a stylus and so had a wedge-shaped appearance (and hence the name cuneiform).’
    • ‘In the thirteenth-century Roman de la Rose, for example, Genius encourages men to propagate the species by using their styluses to write on the tablets that Nature has prepared for them.’
    • ‘For writing, they used a stylus and a wax tablet.’
    1. 2.1A small implement with a pointed end used for engraving and tracing.
    2. 2.2A pen-like device used to input handwritten text or drawings directly into a computer.
      • ‘Similar to a pen in shape, the stylus is a long accessory used to enter data into the programmer's LCD.’
      • ‘The server software also records hand movements through wind changes directly above the tablet when the stylus is not touching it.’
      • ‘He used the palm pilot as his tablet, but his stylus was a plastic space-age contemporary version of the traditional reed pen.’
      • ‘A stylus is a pen that comes with a drawing pad, which is connected to the computer.’
      • ‘It is a digital canvas which can be used with a mouse but really comes into its own when used with a pressure sensitive tablet and stylus.’


Early 18th century (as a modern Latin term in botany: see style): erroneous spelling of Latin stilus.