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boustrophedon

left-to-right, right-to-left alternating-writing

TRANSLATION

boustrophedon = „furchenwendige Schreibweise“, wörtlich „ochsenwendig“, gemeint ist: „wie ein Ochse beim Pflügen hin und her“

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

“Finally, markings found on boards indicate that the board itself represented the journey to the Afterlife, and thus that the pieces moved along a BOUSTROPHEDON path through the spaces. This creates a very different game, which is incompatible with the kind of capturing game represented by Chess or Draughts.”

Walter Crist, Dennis J.N.J. Soemers — Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Elsevier (June 2023)

“The images—sent by Al-Jallad’s mentor, Michael Macdonald, a scholar at Oxford who studies ancient inscriptions—were of artifacts from a recent archeological survey in Jordan. Macdonald pointed Al-Jallad’s attention to one in particular: a small rock covered with runelike marks in a style of writing called BOUSTROPHEDON, named for lines that wrap back and forth, “like an ox turning in a field.”

Elias Muhanna — The New Yorker (23rd May 2018)

Did you
know?

boustrophedon
noun

- the writing of alternate lines in opposite directions (as from left to right and from right to left)

- written from right to left and from left to right in alternate lines

- an ancient method of writing in which the lines run alternately from right to left and from left to right

Merriam-Webster, Oxford Languages, Dictionary(dot)com


WORD ORIGIN

The etymology of “boustrophedon“ is very interesting. It comes from Ancient “turning like an ox“ or “ox-turning”.

The word is composed of three parts: βοῦς (boûs) meaning “ox“, στροφή (strophḗ) meaning “turning”, and -ηδόν (-ēdón), an adverbial suffix. Thus “a style of writing where lines alternate between left-to-right and right-to-left directions”.

“Boustrophedon” entered the English language around 1783, first appearing in the writing of Hugh Blair, a Church of Scotland minister and literary critic.


WEIRD WALKING

58 year-old American, Ashrita Furman, is a prolific record breaker, holds over 200 locomotion records, including:

- Longest continuous distance somersaulting: 12 miles 390 yards in April 1986

- Longest distance walking with a milk bottle balanced on the head: 80.95 miles in April 1998

- Fastest marathon skipping: 26.2 miles 5 hours 55 min 13 sec in August 2003

- Fastest 8 kilometers (4.97 miles) stilt walking: 39 min 56 sec in December 2004

- Longest backwards walk: 80 miles in 3 days from July 17-19, 2007

———

- Longest continuous walk pushing a wheelbarrow: 1,731 miles by Charlie Franks from Great Britain in 1981

- Farthest distance walking with a bottle balanced on the head: 100.18 miles by John Evans from Great Britain in 1998

- Fastest 100m backwards: Roland Wegner from Germany in 13.6 seconds on July 4, 2007

- Fastest backwards mile: Aaron Yoder from the USA in 5 minutes and 54.25 seconds on November 23, 2015

- Longest journey on stilts: Saimaiti Yiming 1,093 miles across China in 2015

- Fastest 100m sprint in high heels: 14.531 seconds by André Ortolf from Germany in 2017

- Fastest mile while juggling (joggling): 4 minutes 43.2 seconds by Zach Prescott from the USA in 2018


SYNONYMS

for “reverse direction”:

About-face, back away, back off, backpedal, backtrack, beat a hasty retreat, boomerang, BOUSTROPHEDON, change course (direction), change tack, come full circle, counter-march, do a 180, do an about-turn, double back, draw back, flip-flop, go back to square one, hang a U-turn, head back, hit reverse, make a U-turn, perform an about-face, pivot, pull a one-eighty, pull back, put in reverse, retrace one’s steps, reverse course (direction, gear, trajectory), row backwards, run in reverse, shift into reverse, step back, swing around, take a detour, take two steps back, throw it in reverse, turn about (around, back), turn on one's heel, turn tail, veer off, walk back, withdraw


SMUGGLE OWAD into a sentence, say something like:

“The economy has felt BOUSTROPHEDON this past year, with progress and recession intertwined.”


HAVE A LAUGH and connect today’s OWAD with yesterday’s in a witty way… say something like:

“The politician’s STENTORIAN speech took so many BOUSTROPHEDON turns that by the end, he had argued passionately for and against his own position.”


THANKS to Florian for suggesting today's word!

Click here to see example text


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