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[stahy-luh s] /ˈstaɪ ləs/
noun, plural styli
[stahy-lahy] /ˈstaɪ laɪ/ (Show IPA),
an instrument of metal, bone, or the like, used by the ancients for writing on waxed tablets, having one end pointed for incising the letters and the other end blunt for rubbing out writing and smoothing the tablet.
any of various pointed, pen-shaped instruments used in drawing, artwork, etc.
Computers. a pen-shaped device used on a display screen to input commands or handwritten text or drawings.
Compare joystick (def 2), mouse (def 4).
  1. Also called cutting stylus. a needle used for cutting grooves in making a disk recording to be played on a phonograph.
  2. a needle for reproducing the sounds of a phonograph record.
any of various pointed wedges used to punch holes in paper or other material, as in writing Braille.
any of various kinds of pens for tracing a line automatically, as on a recording seismograph or electrocardiograph.
Also, style (for defs 1, 2).
Origin of stylus
1720-30; < Latin: spelling variant of stilus stake, pointed writing instrument; spelling with -y- from fancied derivation < Greek stŷlos column Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for stylus


noun (pl) -li (-laɪ), -luses
Also called style. a pointed instrument for engraving, drawing, or writing
a tool used in ancient times for writing on wax tablets, which was pointed at one end and blunt at the other for erasing mistakes
a device attached to the cartridge in the pick-up arm of a record player that rests in the groove in the record, transmitting the vibrations to the sensing device in the cartridge. It consists of or is tipped with a hard material, such as diamond or sapphire
Derived Forms
stylar, adjective
Word Origin
C18: from Latin, variant of stilus writing implement; see style
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for stylus

1728, "stem-like part of a flower pistil," alteration of Latin stilus "stake, stylus;" spelling influenced by Greek stylos "pillar" (see stet). Meaning "instrument for writing" is from 1807.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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stylus in Medicine

stylus sty·lus (stī'ləs)
n. pl. sty·lus·es or sty·li (-lī)

  1. A pencil-shaped structure.

  2. A pencil-shaped medicinal preparation for external application; as a medicated bougie.

  3. See stylet.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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