[stahy-luh s]
noun, plural sty·li [stahy-lahy] /ˈstaɪ laɪ/, sty·lus·es.
  1. 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.
  2. any of various pointed, pen-shaped instruments used in drawing, artwork, etc.
  3. 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).
  4. Audio.
    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.
  5. any of various pointed wedges used to punch holes in paper or other material, as in writing Braille.
  6. 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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for stylus

Historical Examples of stylus

  • It consists of a tympanum or drum, having a stylus attached as in the phonograph.

  • The consequence was a vibration of the mica diaphragm to which the stylus was attached.

  • She was a fair child, her brow a tablet untouched by the stylus of sin.


    James Huneker

  • It has a diaphragm provided centrally with a blunt pin, or stylus.

  • Tucked under the blanket of one was a little book with stylus attached.


    Jim Wannamaker

British Dictionary definitions for stylus


noun plural -li (-laɪ) or -luses
  1. Also called: style a pointed instrument for engraving, drawing, or writing
  2. 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
  3. 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 Formsstylar, adjective

Word Origin for stylus

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

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

stylus in Medicine


n. pl. sty•lus•es
  1. A pencil-shaped structure.
  2. A pencil-shaped medicinal preparation for external application; as a medicated bougie.
  3. stylet
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.