I just discovered this definition of the Gothic in print; then someone asked me to "share the link" -- so here it is.
John Ruskin was a Victorian champion of Gothic architecture. His list of its defining characteristics tickled my fancy, not only because I like metaphor but because it seems an apt description of Gothic subculture.
Any Goths reading this will kindly bear in mind that Ruskin was a great admirer of the Gothic:
I believe, then, that the characteristics or moral elements of Gothic are the following, placed in the order of their importance:
These characters are here expressed as belonging to the building; as belonging to the builder, they would be expressed thus: -- 1. Savageness or Rudeness. 2. Love of Change. 3. Love of Nature. 4. Disturbed Imagination. 5. Obstinacy. 6. Generosity.
...I shall proceed to examine them in their order.
The entire chapter is entitled The Nature of Gothic. I am sure it is all over the Internet.
I don't agree with everything he says, but it makes for highly entertaining reading.