I am searching for a single word which represents "written from left to right" or "written from right to left". Please make sure that the word should be meaning not only the direction but also meaning direction in case of writing. I want to use it like "This language is X", where "X" is the asked for word.

  • 1
    Why do you need a single word? That seems pretty unnatural.
    – tchrist
    Dec 20, 2012 at 12:55
  • Your question seems to be too broad for me. If you ask the same to every asker for a single word, I am sure English would lose its beauty then.
    – Mistu4u
    Dec 20, 2012 at 12:57
  • 4
    Nit: languages are not LTR or RTL, only writing systems are. The same writing system can be used for multiple languages, and the same language can use multiple writing systems. Dec 20, 2012 at 12:59
  • 1
    See this Wikipedia article and scroll down to the paragraph on directionality. There seem to be no such words, only boustrophedon, which means "written from right-to-left and then from left-to-right". The only other single terms for directionality are "horizontal" and "vertical".
    – user21497
    Dec 20, 2012 at 13:01

5 Answers 5


In technical contexts (the study of scripts, Unicode's various rules for communicating them with computers, graphic use of textual elements) the abbreviations LTR and RTL are very often used.

There are boustrophedonic for scripts which change direction on each line, and words in Asian languages to distinguish vertical from horizontal (e.g. tategaki and yokogaki), but no single word I'm aware of for left-to-right or right-to-left though my reading would be such to make me well-placed to come across them if they existed.

Note also, that languages are not left-to-right or right-to-left, but rather scripts are: Malkuth and מלכות are the same word, and so in each case the language is Hebrew, but in the first case it is Hebrew in Latin script, while in the second it is Hebrew in Hebrew script. Likewise hedgehog and הדגהוג are both the same word, in English in Latin script and English in Hebrew script respectively. There are languages which are commonly found in more than one script.

  • the Hebrew word represented would, phonetically, malchut (with the gutteral ch), not malkuth. The second, in Hebrew, reads "hed-g-hoag" -- to write the J sound in modern Hebrew, you would need to put something akin to an apostrophe above and to the left of the gimel.
    – rosends
    Dec 20, 2012 at 14:10
  • @Dan malkuth is the most common transliteration into Latin for English readers that I've seen, though I've also seen malchut and malkut. I agree that it's a nuisance to transliterate in such a way that leads to easy mispronunciation, but it does remain the most common. הדגהוג however was my own attempt at transliteration, so I'll happily accept correction. I do find upon googling that someone else has used the same spelling, though that hardly proves it was a good stab at it.
    – Jon Hanna
    Dec 20, 2012 at 14:21
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    malkuth is wrong for a couple of reasons -- the word (meaning reign of, or kingdom) is spelled with a chaf, not a kaf so the middle sound would not be a "k". The th is often used for a sav because there is a sense that the sav is not a pure s sound even for Ashkenazim. For the hedgehog, you have to invoke the contemporary apostrophe as Hebrew has no built in J.
    – rosends
    Dec 20, 2012 at 14:41
  • @Dan, I see from books.google.com/ngrams/… that malchut seems to have recently taken the lead. I note also that malkuth was in the lead at the height of the popularity of writings of Mathers, Crowley, Regardie et al - so the blame may lie there (Regardie certainly noted a few transliterations as less than ideal, being the only of them whose familiarity with Hebrew would have gone back to childhood). Since my own knowledge is next to zero, I'll assume you are correct.
    – Jon Hanna
    Dec 20, 2012 at 14:55
  • 2
    I knew all those year in yeshiva would eventually pay off. I'll tell my parents I have justified all that money ;)
    – rosends
    Dec 20, 2012 at 14:58

I'm afraid you will be disappointed. The standard English terms for this are right-to-left (note hyphens) and left-to-right. There may be technical Greco-Latin vocabulary for this, but I couldn't find it, and if any such word exists it's extremely obscure and no one will understand it.

  • Thanks for the suggestion.Anyways despite that I would wait for sometime.
    – Mistu4u
    Dec 20, 2012 at 13:00

I was searching for the same thing (a single word for "reading/writing from left-to-right") and found:

sinistrodextral (from left-to-right)
dextrosinistral (from right-to left)

From thesaurus.com:

"Writing systems that go from left to right are sometimes referred to as sinistrodextral, based on Latin roots for left (sinister) and right (dexter). Dextrosinistral is the reverse, right to left."

From wiktionary.org:

Adjective sinistrodextral

  1. Moving or directed from the left to the right. e.g. "a sinistrodextral script"

Per Wikipedia, the standard terms for these directionalities are the quite obvious right-to-left and left-to-right, plus of course the ever-popular boustrophedonic. There are also top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top.

Unicode uses those terms for embedding control characters to change the direction of writing as follows:

Code point Name Commonly abbreviated

You could use Dexter and Sinister. Dexter means to the writer's (and reader's) right, as in modern English and romance languages... While Sinister means to the writer's (and reader's) left, as with modern Arabic, Hebrew and Urdu.

  • 1
    I disagree that these Latin-derived words may be used as acceptable substitutes for "right-to-left" and "left-to-right". Outside a particular jargon, in modern English, "Dexter" is rarely encountered except as a proper noun, and "sinister" is almost exclusively used as a synonym for baleful or malign.
    – scottb
    Jan 9, 2016 at 20:11

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