Definition of stylus in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈstīləs/

noun (plural styli /-ˌlī/ or styluses)

1A hard point, typically of diamond or sapphire, following a groove in a phonograph record and transmitting the recorded sound for reproduction.
Example sentences
  • I also still have every one of the 14 diamond styli that it ever used.
1.1A pointed device formerly used to produce a groove in a record when recording sound.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
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.
Example sentences
  • For writing, they used a stylus and a wax tablet.
  • 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.
  • 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.
2.1An implement with a pointed end used especially for engraving and tracing.
2.2 Computing A penlike device used to input handwritten text or drawings directly into a computer or for input on a touch-sensitive monitor.
Example sentences
  • He used the palm pilot as his tablet, but his stylus was a plastic space-age contemporary version of the traditional reed pen.
  • 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.
  • A stylus is a pen that comes with a drawing pad, which is connected to the computer.


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

Words that rhyme with stylus


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sty·lus

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