Sunday 14 June 1998
This is not so far from what the word used to be about before it became the Jack-of-all-trades it is today, for a style was once a writing instrument. Or, more precisely, something with a sharp point (a stilus in Latin) such as could be used for making marks on a tablet of wax. And, by extension, a piece of writing; and, by a further metonymy, the way in which it was expressed, rather as one might say of a cricketer that he was a reliable bat.
So far so good. But then the word got above itself and was allowed to take on roles for which it had never been intended. From being about the manner of writing, it graduated to the manner of almost anything, such as architecture or horsemanship or the hang of a neighbour's curtains, by which time it had become a bit of a snob. Everyone had a style, but not everyone had style; I'm not sure when this distinction arose, but it had certainly begun to make itself clear by Jane Austen's day, though Austen herself was not too keen on people with pretentions to "style", tout court.
Anyway, we now have at least four common applications of the word: to sports, arts, letters and so forth; to conventions, like "house styles" or how to address an earl; to a way of doing things in general ("Don't like your style"); and to a classy way of doing things ("What style!"). Mr Dacre was using it in this last sense, at least I think he was.
Life & Style blogs
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Christmas 2014: Jesus was not born in a stable, says theologian
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Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
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- 2 North Korean prison officers 'cooked prisoner's baby and fed it to their dogs', more horrific accounts from UN report reveal
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 4 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
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