I came across two occurences of the word 'twist', in my opinion, with the meaning of style. Here are the two mentioned phrases:

The first one from the Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet.

On the fly-leaf, in very faded ink, is written `Ex libris Guliolmi Whyte.' I wonder who William Whyte was. Some pragmatical seventeenth century lawyer, I suppose. His writing has a legal twist about it."

The secon one is again about Sherlock Holmes, explaining another work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

It has many similarities with the canonical stories, most notably the metafictional twist in which Watson supplants Doyle as the author publishing his own stories in a magazine.

In both examples I interpret the meaning of the word as 'style'. If not what is the real meaning? I could not find any dictionary reference for this kind of use.

1 Answer 1


The normal meaning of twist is to turn each end of something in opposite directions: you twist fibre together to make rope, for example. Or for the dance called the twist, your arms move in the opposite direction to your hips.

In this context it means "modification" or "alteration" or "adjustment": a "legal twist" is the sort of modification a lawyer would give something, a "metafictional twist" is a modification to make something a bit metafictional. It does carry the sense of "away from the conventional".

  • In the dictionaries one of the explanations for the word is 'change'. It makes sense after your answer.
    – Zalajbeg
    Jul 14, 2019 at 14:10

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