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What Cyrillic Script is?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Cyrillic" and "Cyrillic alphabet" redirect here. For national variants of the Cyrillic script, see Cyrillic alphabets. For other uses, see Cyrillic (disambiguation).

Romanian Cyrillic - Lord's Prayer text.svg


Languages National script of:
 Bosnia and Herzegovina (also Latin)
 Kazakhstan (also Latin)
 Mongolia (also Mongol script)
 Montenegro (also Latin)
(see Languages using Cyrillic)

Time period

Earliest variants exist c. 940

Parent systems

Egyptian hieroglyphs[1]

Sister systems

Latin alphabet
Coptic alphabet
Armenian alphabet
Georgian alphabet[citation needed]
Greek alphabet
Direction Left-to-right
ISO 15924 Cyrl, 220
Cyrs (Old Church Slavonic variant)

Unicode alias


Unicode range

This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
This article contains Cyrillic text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks or boxes, misplaced vowels or missing conjuncts instead of Cyrillic letters.

The Cyrillic script /sɪˈrɪlɪk/ is a writing system used for various alphabets across Eurasia (particularity in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and North Asia). It is based on the Early Cyrillic alphabet developed during the 9th century AD at the Preslav Literary School in the First Bulgarian Empire.[2][3][4] It is the basis of alphabets used in various languages, especially those of Orthodox Slavic origin, and non-Slavic languages influenced by Russian. As of 2011, around 252 million people in Eurasia use it as the official alphabet for their national languages, with Russia accounting for about half of them.[5] With the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union on 1 January 2007, Cyrillic became the third official script of the European Union, following the Latin script and Greek script.[6]

Cyrillic is derived from the Greek uncial script, augmented by letters from the older Glagolitic alphabet, including some ligatures. These additional letters were used for Old Church Slavonic sounds not found in Greek. The script is named in honor of the two Byzantine brothers,[7] Saints Cyril and Methodius, who created the Glagolitic alphabet earlier on. Modern scholars believe that Cyrillic was developed and formalized by early disciples of Cyril and Methodius.

In the early 18th century, the Cyrillic script used in Russia was heavily reformed by Peter the Great, who had recently returned from his Grand Embassy in western Europe. The new form of letters became closer to the Latin alphabet, several archaic letters were removed and several letters were personally designed by Peter the Great (such as Я which was inspired by Latin R). West European typography culture was also adopted.[8]


Cyrillic script spread throughout the East Slavic and some South Slavic territories, being adopted for writing local languages, such as Old East Slavic. Its adaptation to local languages produced a number of Cyrillic alphabets, discussed hereafter.

The early Cyrillic alphabet[9][10]
А Б В Г Д Е Ж Ѕ[11] И І К Л М Н О П Р С Т ОУ[12] Ф
Х Ѡ Ц Ч Ш Щ Ъ ЪІ[13] Ь Ѣ Ѥ Ю Ѫ Ѭ Ѧ Ѩ Ѯ Ѱ Ѳ Ѵ Ҁ[14]

Capital and lowercase letters were not distinguished in old manuscripts.

A page from the Church Slavonic Grammar of Meletius Smotrytsky (1619)

Yeri (Ы) was originally a ligature of Yer and I (Ъ + І = Ы). Iotation was indicated by ligatures formed with the letter І: (not ancestor of modern Ya, Я, which is derived from Ѧ), Ѥ, Ю (ligature of І and ОУ), Ѩ, Ѭ. Sometimes different letters were used interchangeably, for example И = І = Ї, as were typographical variants like О = Ѻ. There were also commonly used ligatures like ѠТ = Ѿ.

The letters also had numeric values, based not on Cyrillic alphabetical order, but inherited from the letters' Greek ancestors.

Cyrillic numerals
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90