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Apparently the word "styles" can be used for the list of honors someone has during one's life. For example:

Styles:
Mr. John Smith (1950-1960)
Dr. John Smith (1961-1970)
Dr. John Smith MP (1971-1980)

Is this correct? And where does this come from?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It's not the honours specifically, it is the different ways of referring to somebody. The Oxford English Dictionary says (s.v. "style",n, 18)

a. A legal, official, or honorific title; the proper name or recognized appellation of a person, family, trading firm, etc.; the ceremonial designation of a sovereign, including his various titles and the enumeration of his dominions.

This presumably developed from meaning 15. "A manner of discourse, or tone of speaking, adopted in addressing others or in ordinary conversation." or something like it.

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Etymonline gives the origin as c.1300, stile, "designation, title, manner or mode of expression," from O.Fr. estile. Anyone know any Old french to explain better? –  JoseK Jul 19 '11 at 10:33
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Just to clear up the usage : Ms is a style. You may style yourself Esq, Hombre or Emperor of California, but you will still be formally styled (eg on an official letter) Mr. Obtaining the relevant degree gives you the right to be styled Dr. (or the disused feminine form, Drx.) –  TimLymington Jul 19 '11 at 11:00
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@JoseK estile is from Latin stilus (like OFr escrire from scribere, to write) which means a stylus for writing with, and also the way in which you write or speak –  alexg Jul 19 '11 at 12:22
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