Definition of boustrophedon in English:


adjective & adverb

  • (of written words) from right to left and from left to right in alternate lines.

    • ‘Etruscan was sometimes written in boustrophedon fashion and sometimes from right to left in horizontal lines.’
    • ‘The only trick the designer has failed to borrow from ancient Greek inscriptions is the boustrophedon, the ‘ploughman style’ in which words are written with alternate lines left to right then right to left.’
    • ‘In the same excavations on Temple Hill, Robinson found a second example of a similar Archaic sacrificial calendar incised, boustrophedon, in the epichoric Corinthian alphabet, this time on a fragmentary lead tablet.’
    • ‘The first is the back-and-forth meandering pattern known as boustrophedon.’
    • ‘The more indecisive used a curious system known as boustrophedon in which the text would run from left to right, reach the end of the line and double back to run right to left like the furrows of a plough!’
    • ‘At that time the Greeks did not use Upper and Lower case letters, nor did they use punctuation so reading a piece of boustrophedon writing is challenging.’


Early 17th century: from Greek, literally as an ox turns in ploughing, from bous ox + -strophos turning.