early 14c., stile, "writing instrument, pen, stylus; piece of written discourse, a narrative, treatise;" also "characteristic rhetorical mode of an author, manner or mode of expression," and "way of life, manner, behavior, conduct," from Old French stile, estile "style, fashion, manner; a stake, pale," from Latin stilus "stake, instrument for writing, manner of writing, mode of expression," perhaps from the same source as stick (v.)). Spelling modified incorrectly by influence of Greek stylos "pillar," which probably is not directly related. As distinguished from substance, 1570s. Meaning "mode of dress" is from 1814.
c. 1500, "address with a title;" 1560s, "to give a name to," from style (n.). Meaning "to arrange in (fashionable) style" (especially of hair) is attested from 1934. Slang sense of "act or play in a showy way" is by 1974, African-American vernacular. Related: Styled; styling.
updated on October 15, 2015