Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An ancient method of writing in which the lines are inscribed alternately from right to left and from left to right.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A method of writing shown in early Greek inscriptions, in which the lines run alternately from right to left and from left to right, as the furrows made in plowing a field, the plow passing alternately backward and forward.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An ancient mode of writing, in alternate directions, one line from left to right, and the next from right to left (as fields are plowed), as in early Greek and Hittite.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adverb of writing, in a fashion such that the reading direction changes from right-to-left to left-to-right every line.
  • adjective written from right-to-left and left-to-right on alternate lines
  • adjective figuratively changing direction, going back and forth

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an ancient writing system: having alternate lines written in opposite directions; literally `as the ox ploughs'

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From Greek boustrophēdon, turning like an ox while plowing : bous, ox; see gwou- in Indo-European roots + strophē, a turning (from strephein, to turn; see streb(h)- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek βουστροφηδόν (boustrophēdon), from βοῦς (bous, "ox") + στροφή (strophē, "turning") + -δον (-don, "adverbial suffix").

Examples

  • [or rather, down, up, down: the form of writing known as boustrophedon, that is, the way an ox turns in a furrow].

    Select Masterpieces of Biblical Literature

  • There's also the matter of the winding boustrophedon path of the pawns along the three rows of the board at least, according to Timothy Kendall's rules.

    Archive 2009-03-01

  • This winding path is yet again an otherworldly symbolism and is related to the reason why ancient inscriptions in Etruria and in the Aegean area were sometimes written in a boustrophedon or spiral pattern.

    Archive 2009-03-01

  • This winding path is yet again an otherworldly symbolism and is related to the reason why ancient inscriptions in Etruria and in the Aegean area were sometimes written in a boustrophedon or spiral pattern.

    Symbolisms behind the Egyptian Sinat game

  • There's also the matter of the winding boustrophedon path of the pawns along the three rows of the board at least, according to Timothy Kendall's rules.

    Symbolisms behind the Egyptian Sinat game

  • It was written on ostrich skin in the boustrophedon style, in which one line was read from left to right and the next from right to left and so on.

    Deeper

  • Whereas, false boustrophedon, alternate lines instead of having vertical orientation will curl around upside down, this also being called Schlangenschrift which means snake-writing.

    2007 October 02 « One-Minute Book Reviews

  • It was written on ostrich skin in the boustrophedon style, in which one line was read from left to right and the next from right to left and so on.

    Deeper

  • Or consider the Etruscan habit of writing in "boustrophedon style."

    Archive 2006-02-01

  • Greek alphabet, written from right to left, or in boustrophedon.

    Museum of Antiquity A Description of Ancient Life

Comments

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  • from 'as the plow follows the ox'

    December 10, 2006

  • To read regular boustrophedon texts, you alternate between reading lines left-to-right and right-to-left. Reverse boustrophedon texts need to be inverted 180° after each line.

    October 21, 2007

  • I'm sure to the trained reader this sort

    esuaceb ,tneiciffe ylbirret si gnitirw fo

    it reduces the work of the eye by 50%.

    redner ot lacitcarpmi rehtar si ti ,llitS

    since most computer software doesn't

    eb tsum txet dna noisrevni enil troppus

    flipped manually. And since the format is

    tnemngila ,epyt deifitsuj rof detius-tseb

    also becomes an issue. Not to mention the

    eurT .gniht sdrawkcab gnidaer elohw

    boustrophedon may not even be possible with

    sretcarahc derorrim sa ygolonhcet tnerruc

    are not supported for the entire alphabet

    .dradnats edocinU eht ni

    October 22, 2007

  • Actually, when I read I move my neck after each line, so the work is saved on the neck. Furthermore, it is probably bad to have the neck in place for a long time, so moving it periodically could be healthy!

    October 23, 2007

  • Sounds like a name for a newly-discovered species of dinosaur.

    May 16, 2008

  • JM thoroughly enjoys the idea of boustrophedon.

    !ti esu ot seitinutroppo erom erew ereht sehsiw MJ

    July 12, 2009

  • I like weirdnet's "'as the ox ploughs.'" Wouldn't that be a terrific soap opera?

    January 4, 2017