The Style of Defining Style

Whenever engaged in a conversation about a writer’s style, I find my head full of absurd images of Shakespeare with greased hair and a leather jacket climbing off the back of a motorcycle; or Hemmingway in stilettos with a pink boa and a peacock feather quill. Obviously, this is not the definition of style which we are discussing; it is just what pops into my perpetually eleven year old brain.

However, it made me think about the definition of style—writing style that is. I wondered how different in style definitions of style could be:

– a distinctive manner of expression (as in writing or speech)

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/style

– The mode of expressing thought in writing or speaking by selecting and arranging words, considered with respect to clearness, effectiveness, euphony, or the like, that is characteristic of a group, period, person, personality, etc.:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/style

– The basic defining characteristics of a person, everything from talk, dress, hairstyle, demeanor, etc. A majority of the time it is the person’s appearance in general and can be categorized (grunge, hippie, preppy, hoochie, nerdy, etc). A few people have their own style which usually makes them unique while most go with whatever is the “in” thing at the time in all the above categories. Can also be used as a compliment

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=style

-A way of using language

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/style

This is just a brief example of the diverse ways in which the definition of style can be stylized. It may seem like a silly way to explain style, but now you not only have four definitions, but four different examples of style—none of which involve top hats or bedazzled sashes.

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