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Dude -- you're cramping my style!

What does it mean?

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1 Answer

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Dude — you're cramping my style!

means that "Dude" is behaving in such a way as to inhibit whatever behavior the speaker is engaging in at the moment — whether that be trying to have a conversation, playing a game, trying to get romantic with a woman, whatever. Say I was in a bar chatting up some hottie and you walked over and started trying to sell me insurance, I might tell you you were cramping my style.

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I've always wondered about this expression: do you happen to know what the word style means here, which sense of the word is involved here? Is it a metaphor, as in a dancer with restricted movement (I can imagine a dancer's having a style)? I'd like to know how style came to be used in the sense of range of action — if this is even known at all, that is. I read that this expression dates back to WWI. –  Cerberus Jan 31 '11 at 3:31
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@Cerberus - I think in this case it means the way you do something. 2. a particular, distinctive, or characteristic mode of action or manner of acting: They do these things in a grand style. –  gpr Jan 31 '11 at 4:35
    
@gpr: Hmm possibly; that was what I meant by the dancer. But I've heard it used in situations where you wouldn't normally use the word style, except in this expression. Something like I am going to dump her; she is cramping my style with her stalker attitude. –  Cerberus Jan 31 '11 at 4:52
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In this sense 'style' means 'how cool I am' or 'how cool I am acting'. 'Cramping my style' means 'You're stopping me being cool'. –  user3444 Jan 31 '11 at 10:05
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@Cerberus: One's 'style' is the way one presents oneself to the world: it covers everything from clothing to haircut to mannerisms, even to actual interpersonal actions and activities. –  Robusto Jan 31 '11 at 10:39
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