Cyrillic script

Last updated

Cyrillic script
Romanian Cyrillic - Lord's Prayer text.svg
1850s Romanian text (Lord's Prayer), written with the Cyrillic script
Script type
Time period
Earliest variants exist c.893 [1] c.940
Directionleft-to-right  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Official script

Co-official script in:

LanguagesSee Languages using Cyrillic
Related scripts
Parent systems
Child systems
Old Permic script
Sister systems
ISO 15924
ISO 15924 Cyrl(220),Cyrillic
Cyrs (Old Church Slavonic variant)
Unicode alias
Names: Belarusian: кірыліца, Bulgarian: кирилица [ˈkirilit͡sɐ] , Macedonian: кирилица[kiˈrilit͡sa], Russian: кириллица [kʲɪˈrʲilʲɪtsə] , Serbian: ћирилица, Ukrainian: кирилиця
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.For the distinction between [ ], / / and  , see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.
Example of the Cyrillic script. Excerpt from the manuscript "Bdinski Zbornik". Written in 1360. Archive-ugent-be-973E9242-B062-11E1-9EF1-99BDAAF23FF7 DS-375 (cropped).jpg
Example of the Cyrillic script. Excerpt from the manuscript "Bdinski Zbornik". Written in 1360.

The Cyrillic script ( /sɪˈrɪlɪk/ sih-RIL-ik), Slavonic script or simply Slavic script is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia. It is the designated national script in various Slavic, Turkic, Mongolic, Uralic, Caucasian and Iranic-speaking countries in Southeastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, North Asia, and East Asia, and used by many other minority languages.


As of 2019, around 250 million people in Eurasia use Cyrillic as the official script for their national languages, with Russia accounting for about half of them. [4] 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 and Greek alphabets. [5]

The Early Cyrillic alphabet was developed during the 9th century AD at the Preslav Literary School in the First Bulgarian Empire during the reign of Tsar Simeon I the Great, probably by the disciples of the two Byzantine brothers Cyril and Methodius, who had previously created the Glagolitic script. Among them were Clement of Ohrid, Naum of Preslav, Angelar, Sava and other scholars. [6] [7] [8] [9] The script is named in honor of Saint Cyril.


Since the script was conceived and popularised by the Slavic followers of Cyril and Methodius, rather than by Cyril and Methodius themselves, its name denotes homage rather than authorship. The name "Cyrillic" often confuses people who are not familiar with the script's history, because it does not identify the country of origin – Bulgaria (in contrast to the "Greek alphabet").

In Bulgarian, Macedonian, Russian, Serbian, Czech and Slovak, the Cyrillic alphabet is also known as azbuka, derived from the old names of the first two letters of most Cyrillic alphabets (just as the term alphabet came from the first two Greek letters alpha and beta). In Czech and Slovak, which have never used Cyrillic, "azbuka" refers to Cyrillic and contrasts with "abeceda", which refers to the local Latin script and is composed of the names of the first letters (A, B, C, and D). In Russian, syllabaries, especially the Japanese kana, are commonly referred to as 'syllabic azbukas' rather than 'syllabic scripts'.


View of the cave monastery near the village of Krepcha, Opaka Municipality in Bulgaria. Here is found the oldest Cyrillic inscription, dated 921. Krepchanski manastir.jpg
View of the cave monastery near the village of Krepcha, Opaka Municipality in Bulgaria. Here is found the oldest Cyrillic inscription, dated 921.
A page from Bukvar (ABC (Reader)), the first Old Slavonic textbook, printed by Ivan Fyodorov in 1574 in Lviv. This page features the Cyrillic alphabet. Azbuka 1574 by Ivan Fyodorov.png
A page from Буквар (ABC (Reader)), the first Old Slavonic textbook, printed by Ivan Fyodorov in 1574 in Lviv. This page features the Cyrillic alphabet.

The Cyrillic script was created during the First Bulgarian Empire. [11] Modern scholars believe that the Early Cyrillic alphabet was created at the Preslav Literary School, the most important early literary and cultural center of the First Bulgarian Empire and of all Slavs:

Unlike the Churchmen in Ohrid, Preslav scholars were much more dependent upon Greek models and quickly abandoned the Glagolitic scripts in favor of an adaptation of the Greek uncial to the needs of Slavic, which is now known as the Cyrillic alphabet. [8]

A number of prominent Bulgarian writers and scholars worked at the school, including Naum of Preslav until 893; Constantine of Preslav; Joan Ekzarh (also transcr. John the Exarch); and Chernorizets Hrabar, among others. The school was also a center of translation, mostly of Byzantine authors. The Cyrillic script is derived from the Greek uncial script letters, augmented by ligatures and consonants from the older Glagolitic alphabet for sounds not found in Greek. Glagolitic and Cyrillic were formalized by the Byzantine Saints Cyril and Methodius and their disciples, such as Saints Naum, Clement, Angelar, and Sava. They spread and taught Christianity in the whole of Bulgaria. [12] [13] [14] [15] Paul Cubberley posits that although Cyril may have codified and expanded Glagolitic, it was his students in the First Bulgarian Empire under Tsar Simeon the Great that developed Cyrillic from the Greek letters in the 890s as a more suitable script for church books. [11]

Cyrillic spread among other Slavic peoples, as well as among non-Slavic Romanians. The earliest datable Cyrillic inscriptions have been found in the area of Preslav, in the medieval city itself and at nearby Patleina Monastery, both in present-day Shumen Province, as well as in the Ravna Monastery and in the Varna Monastery. The new script became the basis of alphabets used in various languages in Orthodox Church-dominated Eastern Europe, both Slavic and non-Slavic languages (such as Romanian, until the 1860s). For centuries, Cyrillic was also used by Catholic and Muslim Slavs (see Bosnian Cyrillic).

Cyrillic and Glagolitic were used for the Church Slavonic language, especially the Old Church Slavonic variant. Hence expressions such as "И is the tenth Cyrillic letter" typically refer to the order of the Church Slavonic alphabet; not every Cyrillic alphabet uses every letter available in the script. The Cyrillic script came to dominate Glagolitic in the 12th century.

The literature produced in Old Church Slavonic soon spread north from Bulgaria and became the lingua franca of the Balkans and Eastern Europe. [16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

Bosnian Cyrillic, widely known as Bosančica [21] [22] is an extinct variant of the Cyrillic alphabet that originated in medieval Bosnia. Paleographers consider the earliest features of Bosnian Cyrillic script had likely begun to appear between the 10th or 11th century, with the Humac tablet (a tablet written in Bosnian Cyrillic) to be the first such document using this type of script and is believed to date from this period. [23] Bosnian Cyrillic was used continuously until the 18th century, with sporadic usage even taking place in the 20th century. [24]

With the orthographic reform of Saint Evtimiy of Tarnovo and other prominent representatives of the Tarnovo Literary School of the 14th and 15th centuries, such as Gregory Tsamblak and Constantine of Kostenets, the school influenced Russian, Serbian, Wallachian and Moldavian medieval culture. This is known in Russia as the second South-Slavic influence.

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 letterforms, called the Civil script, became closer to those of the Latin alphabet; several archaic letters were abolished and several new letters were introduced designed by Peter himself. Letters became distinguished between upper and lower case. West European typography culture was also adopted. [25] The pre-reform letterforms, called 'Полуустав', were notably retained in Church Slavonic and are sometimes used in Russian even today, especially if one wants to give a text a 'Slavic' or 'archaic' feel.

The alphabet used for the modern Church Slavonic language in Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic rites still resembles early Cyrillic. However, over the course of the following millennium, Cyrillic adapted to changes in spoken language, developed regional variations to suit the features of national languages, and was subjected to academic reform and political decrees. A notable example of such linguistic reform can be attributed to Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, who updated the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet by removing certain graphemes no longer represented in the vernacular and introducing graphemes specific to Serbian (i.e. Љ Њ Ђ Ћ Џ Ј), distancing it from the Church Slavonic alphabet in use prior to the reform. Today, many languages in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and northern Eurasia are written in Cyrillic alphabets.


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 below.

The early Cyrillic alphabet [26] [27]
А Б В Г Д Є Ж [28] И І К Л М Н О П Р С Т ОУ [29] Ф
Х Ѡ Ц Ч Ш Щ Ъ ЪІ [30] Ь Ѣ Ѥ Ю Ѫ Ѭ Ѧ Ѩ Ѯ Ѱ Ѳ Ѵ Ҁ [31]

Capital and lowercase letters were not distinguished in old manuscripts.

A page from the Church Slavonic Grammar of Meletius Smotrytsky (1619) Meletius Smotrisky Cyrillic Alphabet.PNG
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 an 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.[ citation needed ]

Cyrillic numerals
АВГДЄ (Е)Ѕ (, )З ()ИѲ
РСТѴ (Ѵ, Оу, )ФХѰѠ (Ѿ, )Ц (Ѧ)

The early Cyrillic alphabet is difficult to represent on computers. Many of the letterforms differed from those of modern Cyrillic, varied a great deal in manuscripts, and changed over time. Few fonts include glyphs sufficient to reproduce the alphabet. In accordance with Unicode policy, the standard does not include letterform variations or ligatures found in manuscript sources unless they can be shown to conform to the Unicode definition of a character.

The Unicode 5.1 standard, released on 4 April 2008, greatly improved computer support for the early Cyrillic and the modern Church Slavonic language. In Microsoft Windows, the Segoe UI user interface font is notable for having complete support for the archaic Cyrillic letters since Windows 8.[ citation needed ]

Slavic Cyrillic letters
A with grave
A with circumflex
A with macron
Ge (Ghe)
Ghe upturn
Ye with grave
Ye with circumflex
Ye with macron
Ukrainian Ye
Dotted I
I with grave
I with circumflex
I with macron
Short I
O with grave
O with circumflex
O with macron
U with grave
U with circumflex
U with macron
Short U
Hard sign (Yer)
Hard sign with grave
Soft sign (Yeri)
Yu with grave
Ya with grave
Examples of non-Slavic Cyrillic letters (see List of Cyrillic letters for more)
A with diaeresis
A with
Ge with
middle hook
Ghayn with
Ge with
Zhe with
Zhe with
Bashkir Qa
Ka with
En with
En with
En with
O with diaeresis
O with breve
Er with
Te with
U with
U with
double acute
Kazakh Short U
Kha with
Kha with
Kha with
Shha (He)
Te Tse
Che with
Che with
vertical stroke
Cyrillic letters used in the past

Iotated A
Iotated E
Small yus
Big yus
Iotated small yus
Iotated big yus

Izhitsa okovy

Currency signs

Some currency signs have derived from Cyrillic letters:

Letterforms and typography

The development of Cyrillic typography passed directly from the medieval stage to the late Baroque, without a Renaissance phase as in Western Europe. Late Medieval Cyrillic letters (categorized as vyaz' and still found on many icon inscriptions today) show a marked tendency to be very tall and narrow, with strokes often shared between adjacent letters.

Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia, mandated the use of westernized letter forms (ru) in the early 18th century. Over time, these were largely adopted in the other languages that use the script. Thus, unlike the majority of modern Greek fonts that retained their own set of design principles for lower-case letters (such as the placement of serifs, the shapes of stroke ends, and stroke-thickness rules, although Greek capital letters do use Latin design principles), modern Cyrillic fonts are much the same as modern Latin fonts of the same font family. The development of some Cyrillic computer typefaces from Latin ones has also contributed to the visual Latinization of Cyrillic type.

Lowercase forms

Letters Ge, De, I, Short I, Em, Te, Tse, Be and Ve in upright (printed) and cursive (handwritten) variants. (Top is set in Georgia font, bottom in Odesa Script.) Cyrillic upright-cursive-n.svg
Letters Ge, De, I, Short I, Em, Te, Tse, Be and Ve in upright (printed) and cursive (handwritten) variants. (Top is set in Georgia font, bottom in Odesa Script.)

Cyrillic uppercase and lowercase letter forms are not as differentiated as in Latin typography. Upright Cyrillic lowercase letters are essentially small capitals (with exceptions: Cyrillic а, е, і, ј, р, and у adopted Western lowercase shapes, lowercase ф is typically designed under the influence of Latin p, lowercase б, ђ and ћ are traditional handwritten forms), although a good-quality Cyrillic typeface will still include separate small-caps glyphs. [32]

Cyrillic fonts, as well as Latin ones, have roman and italic types (practically all popular modern fonts include parallel sets of Latin and Cyrillic letters, where many glyphs, uppercase as well as lowercase, are shared by both). However, the native font terminology in most Slavic languages (for example, in Russian) does not use the words "roman" and "italic" in this sense. [33] Instead, the nomenclature follows German naming patterns:

Alternate variants of lowercase (cursive) Cyrillic letters: B/b, D/d, G/g, I/i, P/p, T/t, Sh/sh.
.mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}
Default Russian (Eastern) forms on the left.
Alternate Bulgarian (Western) upright forms in the middle.
Alternate Serbian/Macedonian (Southern) italic forms on the right.
See also: Cyrillic alternates.svg
Alternate variants of lowercase (cursive) Cyrillic letters: Б/б, Д/д, Г/г, И/и, П/п, Т/т, Ш/ш.
  Default Russian (Eastern) forms on the left.
  Alternate Bulgarian (Western) upright forms in the middle.
  Alternate Serbian/Macedonian (Southern) italic forms on the right.
See also:
Cyrillic cursive.svg
Special Cyrillics BGDPT.svg

Italic and cursive forms

Similarly to Latin fonts, italic and cursive types of many Cyrillic letters (typically lowercase; uppercase only for handwritten or stylish types) are very different from their upright roman types. In certain cases, the correspondence between uppercase and lowercase glyphs does not coincide in Latin and Cyrillic fonts: for example, italic Cyrillic т is the lowercase counterpart of Т not of М.

Differences between upright and italic Cyrillic letters of the Russian alphabet; italic forms significantly different from their upright analogues, or especially confusing to users of a Latin alphabet, are highlighted; also available as a graphical image.

Note: in some fonts or styles, д, i.e. the lowercase italic Cyrillic д, may look like Latin g, and т, i.e. lowercase italic Cyrillic т, may look like small-capital italic T.

In Standard Serbian, as well as in Macedonian, [34] some italic and cursive letters are allowed to be different, to more closely resemble the handwritten letters. The regular (upright) shapes are generally standardized in small caps form. [35]

Mandatory (blue) and optional (green) italic lowercase variants, alongside unique letters (red), in South-European typography

Notes: Depending on fonts available, the Serbian row may appear identical to the Russian row. Unicode approximations are used in the faux row to ensure it can be rendered properly across all systems.

In Bulgarian typography, many lowercase letterforms may more closely resemble the cursive forms on the one hand and Latin glyphs on the other hand, e.g. by having an ascender or descender or by using rounded arcs instead of sharp corners. [36] Sometimes, uppercase letters may have a different shape as well, e.g. more triangular, Д and Л, like Greek delta Δ and lambda Λ.

Differences between Russian and Bulgarian glyphs of upright Cyrillic lowercase letters; Bulgarian glyphs significantly different from their Russian analogues or different from their italic form are highlighted

Notes: Depending on fonts available, the Bulgarian row may appear identical to the Russian row. Unicode approximations are used in the faux row to ensure it can be rendered properly across all systems; in some cases, such as ж with k-like ascender, no such approximation exists.

Accessing variant forms

Computer fonts typically default to the Central/Eastern, Russian letterforms, and require the use of OpenType Layout (OTL) features to display the Western, Bulgarian or Southern, Serbian/Macedonian forms. Depending on the choices of the font manufacturer, they may either be automatically activated by the local variantlocl feature for text tagged with an appropriate language code, or the author needs to opt-in by activating a stylistic setss## or character variantcv## feature. These solutions only enjoy partial support and may render with default glyphs in certain software configurations. [37]

Cyrillic alphabets

Among others, Cyrillic is the standard script for writing the following languages:

The Cyrillic script has also been used for languages of Alaska, [40] Slavic Europe (except for Western Slavic and some Southern Slavic), the Caucasus, the languages of Idel-Ural, Siberia, and the Russian Far East.

The first alphabet derived from Cyrillic was Abur, used for the Komi language. [41] Other Cyrillic alphabets include the Molodtsov alphabet for the Komi language and various alphabets for Caucasian languages. [42]

Usage of Cyrillic versus other scripts

Cyrillic Script Monument in Antarctica Cyrillic monument.jpg
Cyrillic Script Monument in Antarctica

Latin script

A number of languages written in a Cyrillic alphabet have also been written in a Latin alphabet, such as Azerbaijani, Uzbek, Serbian, and Romanian (in the Republic of Moldova until 1989 and in the Danubian Principalities throughout the 19th century). After the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, some of the former republics officially shifted from Cyrillic to Latin. The transition is complete in most of Moldova (except the breakaway region of Transnistria, where Moldovan Cyrillic is official), Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan. Uzbekistan still uses both systems, and Kazakhstan has officially begun a transition from Cyrillic to Latin (scheduled to be complete by 2025). The Russian government has mandated that Cyrillic must be used for all public communications in all federal subjects of Russia, to promote closer ties across the federation. This act was controversial for speakers of many Slavic languages; for others, such as Chechen and Ingush speakers, the law had political ramifications. For example, the separatist Chechen government mandated a Latin script which is still used by many Chechens.[ citation needed ]

Cyrillic alphabet world distribution.svg
Countries with widespread use of the Cyrillic script:
  Sole official script
  Co-official with another script (either because the official language is biscriptal, or the state is bilingual)
  Being replaced with Latin, but is still in official use
  Legacy script for the official language, or large minority use
  Cyrillic is not widely used
Cyrillic Script in Europe Cyrillic Europe.PNG
Cyrillic Script in Europe

Standard Serbian uses both the Cyrillic and Latin scripts. Cyrillic is nominally the official script of Serbia's administration according to the Serbian constitution; [43] however, the law does not regulate scripts in standard language, or standard language itself by any means. In practice the scripts are equal, with Latin being used more often in a less official capacity. [44]

The Zhuang alphabet, used between the 1950s and 1980s in portions of the People's Republic of China, used a mixture of Latin, phonetic, numeral-based, and Cyrillic letters. The non-Latin letters, including Cyrillic, were removed from the alphabet in 1982 and replaced with Latin letters that closely resembled the letters they replaced. [45]


There are various systems for romanization of Cyrillic text, including transliteration to convey Cyrillic spelling in Latin letters, and transcription to convey pronunciation.

Standard Cyrillic-to-Latin transliteration systems include:

See also Romanization of Belarusian, Bulgarian, Kyrgyz, Russian, Macedonian and Ukrainian.


Representing other writing systems with Cyrillic letters is called Cyrillization.

Summary table

The Cyrillic script
Slavic letters
А А̀ А̂ А̄ Ӓ Б В Г
Ґ Д Ђ Ѓ Е Е́ Ѐ Е̄
Е̂ Ё Є Ж З З́ Ѕ И
І Ї Ї́ Ѝ И̂ Ӣ Й
О̀ О̂ Ō Ӧ П Р С С́
Т Ћ Ќ У У̀ У̂ Ӯ Ў
Ъ Ъ̀ Ы Ь Ѣ Э Ю
Ю́ Ю̀ Я Я́ Я̀
Non-Slavic letters
Ӑ А̊ А̃ Ӓ̄ Ӕ Ә Ә́ Ә̃
Ӛ В̌ Ԝ Г̑ Г̇ Г̣ Г̌ Г̂
Г̆ Г̈ Ҕ Ғ Cyrillic capital letter Ghe with stroke and descender.svg Ӻ Ғ̌ Ӷ
Cyrillic capital letter Ghe with hook.svg Д́ Д̌ Д̈ Д̣ Д̆ Ӗ Е̃
Ё̄ Є̈ Җ Ӝ Ӂ Ж̣ Ҙ Ӟ
З̌ З̣ З̆ Ԑ Ԑ̈ Ӡ И̃ Ӥ
Ҋ Қ Ӄ Ҡ Ҟ Ҝ К̣ Ԛ
Л́ Ӆ Ԯ Ԓ Л̈ Ӎ
Н́ Ӊ Ң Ԩ Ӈ Ҥ О̆ О̃
Ӧ̄ Ө Ө̄ Ө́ Ө̆ Ӫ Ԥ П̈
Р̌ Ҏ С̌ Ҫ С̣ С̱ Т́ Т̈
Т̌ Т̇ Т̣ Ҭ Cyrillic capital letter Te Soft-sign.svg У̃ Ӳ У̊
Ӱ̄ Ұ Ү Ү́ Х̣ Х̱ Х̮ Х̑
Х̌ Ҳ Ӽ Ӿ Һ Һ̈ Ԧ Ц̌
Ц̈ Ҵ Ҷ Ҷ̣ Ӵ Ӌ Cyrillic capital letter Che with hook.svg Ҹ
Ч̇ Ч̣ Ҽ Ҿ Ш̈ Ш̣ Ы̆
Ы̄ Ӹ Ҍ Ҩ Э̆ Э̄ Э̇
Ӭ Ӭ́ Ӭ̄ Ю̆ Ю̈ Ю̈́ Ю̄ Я̆
Я̄ Я̈ Я̈́ Ӏ
Archaic or unused letters
Cyrillic capital letter script A.svg А̨ Б̀ Б̣ Б̱ В̀ Г̀ Г̧
Г̄ Г̓ Г̆ Ҕ̀ Ҕ̆ Cyrillic capital letter split by middle ring Ghe.svg Ԁ Д̓
Д̀ Д̨ Cyrillic capital letter archaic Dje.svg Ԃ Е̇ Е̨
Ж̀ Ж̑ Cyrillic small letter Zhe with stroke.svg Cyrillic capital letter Je with inverted belt.svg Cyrillic small letter Dje with high right breve serif.svg Џ̆
Ꚅ̆ З̀ З̑ Ԅ Ԇ
Ԫ Cyrillic capital letter Shha with Cil top.svg Cyrillic capital letter Shha with high right breve serif.svg І̂ І̣ І̨
Cyrillic capital letter byelorussian-ukrainian I with curve at bottom.svg Ј̵ Ј̃ К̓ К̀ К̆ Ӄ̆
К̑ К̇ К̈ К̄ Ԟ К̂ Cyrillic capital letter Ka with loop.svg Cyrillic small letter ka with ascender.svg
Л̀ Ԡ Ԉ Л̑ Л̇ Ԕ Cyrillic small letter El with retroflex hook.svg
Cyrillic small letter Te El with retroflex hook.svg М̀ М̃ Н̀ Н̄ Н̧ Н̃
Ԋ Ԣ Н̡ Ѻ
Cyrillic capital letter O with notch at bottom.svg Cyrillic capital letter O with left notch.svg П̓ П̀ П́ Ҧ
П̧ П̑ Ҁ Ԛ̆ Cyrillic capital letter Shha with hook.svg Р́ Р̀ Р̃
Ԗ С̀ С̈ Ԍ Ҫ̓ Cyrillic capital letter long Es.svg Т̓ Т̀
Ԏ Т̑ Т̧ Ꚍ̆ Cyrillic small letter Te El.svg Cyrillic small letter voiceless L.svg
Cyrillic small letter voiceless L with comma above.svg Ѹ Cyrillic capital letter script U.svg У̇ У̨ ꙋ́ Ф̑
Ф̓ Х́ Х̀ Х̆ Х̇ Х̧ Х̓ Cyrillic capital letter bashkir Ha.svg
һ̱ Ѡ Ѽ Ѿ Ц̀ Ц́
Ц̓ Cyrillic capital letter Tse with long left leg.svg Ꚏ̆ Cyrillic capital letter Cil.svg Cyrillic capital letter Cil with bar.svg Ч́
Ч̀ Ч̆ Ч̑ Ч̓ Cyrillic capital letter Char.svg Cyrillic small letter Char with high right breve serif.svg Ԭ
Ꚇ̆ Ҽ̆ Ш̀ Ш̆ Ш̑ Щ̆
Ꚗ̆ Cyrillic capital letter Che Sha.svg Ы̂ Ы̃ Ѣ́ Ѣ̈ Ѣ̆
Э̨ Э̂ Ю̂ Cyrillic capital letter iotified monograph uk.svg Cyrillic capital letter iotified monograph uk with breve.svg
Я̈ Я̂ Я̨ Ԙ Ѥ Ѧ Ѫ
Cyrillic alphabets comparison table
Early scripts
Most common shared letters
CommonА БВГ Д  Е  Ж З И   ЙК Л М Н  О П Р С Т У  ФХ Ц Ч ШЩ   Ь  ЮЯ
South Slavic languages
BulgarianА БВГ Д ДзЕ  Ж З И   ЙК Л М Н  О П Р С Т У  ФХ Ц ЧДжШЩЪ  Ь  ЮЯ
East Slavic languages
RussianА БВГ Д  Е ЁЖ З И  ЙК Л М Н  О П Р С Т У  ФХ Ц Ч ШЩЪЫЬЭ ЮЯ         
Iranian languages
Romance languages
Uralic languages
Turkic languages
KyrgyzА Б Г Д  Е ЁЖ З И   ЙК Л М НҢ ОӨП Р С Т У Ү Х   Ч Ш  Ы  Э ЮЯ
Mongolian languages
BuryatА БВГ Д  Е ЁЖ З И   Й  Л М Н  ОӨП Р С Т У Ү ХҺЦ Ч Ш  Ы ЬЭ ЮЯ
Caucasian languages
Sino-Tibetan languages

Computer encoding


As of Unicode version 15.1, Cyrillic letters, including national and historical alphabets, are encoded across several blocks:

The characters in the range U+0400 to U+045F are essentially the characters from ISO 8859-5 moved upward by 864 positions. The characters in the range U+0460 to U+0489 are historic letters, not used now. The characters in the range U+048A to U+052F are additional letters for various languages that are written with Cyrillic script.

Unicode as a general rule does not include accented Cyrillic letters. A few exceptions include:

To indicate stressed or long vowels, combining diacritical marks can be used after the respective letter (for example, U+0301́COMBINING ACUTE ACCENT: е́ у́ э́ etc.).

Some languages, including Church Slavonic, are still not fully supported.[ citation needed ]

Unicode 5.1, released on 4 April 2008, introduces major changes to the Cyrillic blocks. Revisions to the existing Cyrillic blocks, and the addition of Cyrillic Extended A (2DE0 ... 2DFF) and Cyrillic Extended B (A640 ... A69F), significantly improve support for the early Cyrillic alphabet, Abkhaz, Aleut, Chuvash, Kurdish, and Moksha. [48]


Other character encoding systems for Cyrillic:

Keyboard layouts

Each language has its own standard keyboard layout, adopted from typewriters. With the flexibility of computer input methods, there are also transliterating or phonetic/homophonic keyboard layouts made for typists who are more familiar with other layouts, like the common English QWERTY keyboard. When practical Cyrillic keyboard layouts or fonts are unavailable, computer users sometimes use transliteration or look-alike "volapuk" encoding to type in languages that are normally written with the Cyrillic alphabet.

See also

Internet top-level domains in Cyrillic


  1. North Macedonia has two official languages, Macedonian, which is written in Cyrillic, and Albanian, written in Latin.
  2. Bosnia and Herzegovina has three official languages, Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian, which are used with both Latin and Cyrillic.
  3. Albanian is written in Latin script in Kosovo, but Serbian in Cyrillic.
  4. Kazakh language will be transitioned to a Latin script from 2023 to 2031. Russian, the co-official language in Kazakhstan, will continue to be written in Cyrillic.
  5. Cyrillic is the de facto script used alongside Latin. It is used in business, government, and other official documents. It is also widely spread through out Uzbekistan.
  6. Cyrillic is used co-officially alongside the Mongolian script.
  7. The Montenegrin language, the official language of Montenegro, is written in Latin and Cyrillic.


  1. Auty, R. Handbook of Old Church Slavonic, Part II: Texts and Glossary. 1977.
  2. Oldest alphabet found in Egypt. BBC. 1999-11-15. Retrieved 2015-01-14.
  3. "Bdinski Zbornik[manuscript]". Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  4. List of countries by population
  5. Orban, Leonard (24 May 2007). "Cyrillic, the third official alphabet of the EU, was created by a truly multilingual European" (PDF). European Union. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 October 2022. Retrieved 3 August 2014.
  6. Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001–05, s.v. "Cyril and Methodius, Saints"; Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Incorporated, Warren E. Preece – 1972, p. 846, s.v., "Cyril and Methodius, Saints" and "Eastern Orthodoxy, Missions ancient and modern"; Encyclopedia of World Cultures, David H. Levinson, 1991, p. 239, s.v., "Social Science"; Eric M. Meyers, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, p. 151, 1997; Lunt, Slavic Review, June 1964, p. 216; Roman Jakobson, Crucial problems of Cyrillo-Methodian Studies; Leonid Ivan Strakhovsky, A Handbook of Slavic Studies, p. 98; V. Bogdanovich, History of the ancient Serbian literature, Belgrade, 1980, p. 119.
  7. Dvornik, Francis (1956). The Slavs: Their Early History and Civilization . Boston: American Academy of Arts and Sciences. p.  179. The Psalter and the Book of Prophets were adapted or "modernized" with special regard to their use in Bulgarian churches and it was in this school that the Glagolitic script was replaced by the so-called Cyrillic writing, which was more akin to the Greek uncial, simplified matters considerably and is still used by the Orthodox Slavs.
  8. 1 2 Curta 2006, pp. 221–222.
  9. Hussey, J. M.; Louth, Andrew (2010). "The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire". Oxford History of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press. p. 100. ISBN   978-0-19-161488-0.
  10. Провежда се международна конференция в гр. Опака за св. Антоний от Крепчанския манастир. Добротолюбие – Център за християнски, църковно-исторически и богословски изследвания, 15.10.2021.
  11. 1 2 Paul Cubberley (1996) "The Slavic Alphabets". In Daniels and Bright, eds. The World's Writing Systems. Oxford University Press. ISBN   0-19-507993-0.
  12. Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001–05, s.v. "Cyril and Methodius, Saints"; Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Incorporated, Warren E. Preece – 1972, p. 846, s.v., "Cyril and Methodius, Saints" and "Eastern Orthodoxy, Missions ancient and modern"; Encyclopedia of World Cultures, David H. Levinson, 1991, p. 239, s.v., "Social Science"; Eric M. Meyers, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, p. 151, 1997; Lunt, Slavic Review, June, 1964, p. 216; Roman Jakobson, Crucial problems of Cyrillo-Methodian Studies; Leonid Ivan Strakhovsky, A Handbook of Slavic Studies, p. 98; V. Bogdanovich, History of the ancient Serbian literature, Belgrade, 1980, p. 119.
  13. The Columbia Encyclopaedia, Sixth Edition. 2001–05, O.Ed. Saints Cyril and Methodius "Cyril and Methodius, Saints) 869 and 884, respectively, "Greek missionaries, brothers, called Apostles to the Slavs and fathers of Slavonic literature."
  14. Encyclopædia Britannica, Major alphabets of the world, Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabets, 2008, O.Ed. "The two early Slavic alphabets, the Cyrillic and the Glagolitic, were invented by St. Cyril, or Constantine (c. 827–869), and St. Methodii (c. 825–884). These men from Thessaloniki who became apostles to the southern Slavs, whom they converted to Christianity."
  15. Hollingsworth, P. A. (1991). "Constantine the Philosopher". In Kazhdan, Alexander (ed.). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium . Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. p. 507. ISBN   0-19-504652-8. Constantine (Cyril) and his brother Methodius were the sons of the droungarios Leo and Maria, who may have been a Slav.
  16. "On the relationship of old Church Slavonic to the written language of early Rus'" Horace G. Lunt; Russian Linguistics, Volume 11, Numbers 2–3 / January, 1987
  17. Schenker, Alexander (1995). The Dawn of Slavic. Yale University Press. pp. 185–186, 189–190.
  18. Lunt, Horace (2001). Old Church Slavonic Grammar . Mouton de Gruyter. pp.  3–4. ISBN   9783110162844.
  19. Wien, Lysaght (1983). Old Church Slavonic (Old Bulgarian)-Middle Greek-Modern English dictionary. Verlag Bruder Hollinek.
  20. Benjamin W. Fortson. Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, p. 374.
  21. Balić, Smail (1978). Die Kultur der Bosniaken, Supplement I: Inventar des bosnischen literarischen Erbes in orientalischen Sprachen. Vienna: Adolf Holzhausens, Vienna. pp. 49–50, 111.
  22. Algar, Hamid (1995). The Literature of the Bosnian Muslims: a Quadrilingual Heritage. Kuala Lumpur: Nadwah Ketakwaan Melalui Kreativiti. pp. 254–268.
  23. "Srećko M. Džaja vs. Ivan Lovrenović – polemika o kulturnom identitetu BiH Ivan Lovrenović". (in Croatian). Polemics appeared between Srećko M. Džaja & Ivan Lovrenović in Zagreb's biweekly "Vijenac", later in whole published in Journal of Franciscan theology in Sarajevo, "Bosna franciscana" No.42. 2014. Archived from the original on 11 April 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  24. ILIEV, IVAN G. "Short history of the Cyrillic alphabet – Ivan G. Iliev – IJORS International Journal of Russian Studies". INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF RUSSIAN STUDIES. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  25. "Civil Type and Kis Cyrillic". Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  26. А. Н. Стеценко. Хрестоматия по Старославянскому Языку, 1984.
  27. Cubberley, Paul. The Slavic Alphabets, 1996.
  28. Variant form: S.
  29. Variant form: Ꙋ.
  30. Variant form: ЪИ.
  31. Lunt, Horace G. Old Church Slavonic Grammar, Seventh Edition, 2001.
  32. Bringhurst (2002) writes: "in Cyrillic, the difference between normal lower case and small caps is more subtle than it is in the Latin or Greek alphabets" (p. 32) and "in most Cyrillic faces, the lower case is close in color and shape to Latin small caps" (p. 107).
  33. Name ital'yanskiy shrift (Italian font) in Russian refers to a particular font family JPG Archived 26 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine , whereas rimskiy shrift (roman font) is just a synonym for Latin font, Latin alphabet.
  34. Pravopis na makedonskiot jazik (PDF). Skopje: Institut za makedonski jazik Krste Misirkov. 2017. p. 3. ISBN   978-608-220-042-2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 October 2022.
  35. Peshikan, Mitar; Jerković, Jovan; Pižurica, Mato (1994). Pravopis srpskoga jezika. Beograd: Matica Srpska. p. 42. ISBN   978-86-363-0296-5.
  36. "Cyrillicsly: Two Cyrillics: a critical history I".
  37. "Cyrillic script variations and the importance of localisation -". 24 September 2020.
  38. "Alphabet soup as Kazakh leader orders switch from Cyrillic to Latin letters". The Guardian. Reuters. 26 October 2017. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  39. The Times (20 March 2020). "Mongolia to restore traditional alphabet by 2025". News.MN. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  40. "Alaskan Orthodox texts". All Saints of North America Orthodox Church. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
  41. Iliev, Ivan G. "SHORT History of the Cyrillic ALPHABET". International Journal of Russian Studies. Retrieved 4 February 2023.
  42. "Komi language and alphabet". Retrieved 6 October 2023.
  43. "Serbian constitution".
  44. "Serbian signs of the times are not in Cyrillic". Christian Science Monitor. 29 May 2008.
  45. Grey, Alexandra (14 December 2021), "8 How Standard Zhuang has Met with Market Forces", Language Standardisation and Language Variation in Multilingual Contexts, Multilingual Matters, pp. 163–182, doi: 10.21832/9781800411562-011 , ISBN   978-1-80041-156-2, S2CID   245301540 , retrieved 19 May 2023.
  46. "UNGEGN Working Group on Romanization Systems".
  47. Лопатин, В. В., ed. (2009). "Употребление буквы ё в текстах разного назначения" [Rules of Russian orthography and punctuation online. Usage of the letter ё in texts of varied purposes]. Правила русской орфографии и пунктуации онлайн (in Russian). Retrieved 4 September 2023.
  48. "IOS Universal Multiple-Octet Coded Character Set" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 October 2022. Retrieved 13 June 2012.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glagolitic script</span> Oldest known Slavic alphabet

The Glagolitic script is the oldest known Slavic alphabet. It is generally agreed to have been created in the 9th century by Saint Cyril, a monk from Thessalonica. He and his brother Saint Methodius were sent by the Byzantine Emperor Michael III in 863 to Great Moravia to spread Christianity among the West Slavs in the area. The brothers decided to translate liturgical books into the contemporary Slavic language understandable to the general population, and Cyril decided to invent a new script, Glagolitic, which he based on the local dialect of the Slavic tribes from around Thessalonica. After the deaths of Cyril and Methodius, the Glagolitic alphabet ceased to be used in Moravia for political or religious needs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cyril and Methodius</span> 9th-century Byzantine Christian theologians and missionaries

Cyril and Methodius (815–885) were brothers, Byzantine Christian theologians and missionaries. For their work evangelizing the Slavs, they are known as the "Apostles to the Slavs".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Old Church Slavonic</span> Medieval Slavic literary language

Old Church Slavonic or Old Slavonic is the first Slavic literary language.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ya (Cyrillic)</span> Cyrillic letter

Ya or Ja is a letter of the Cyrillic script, the civil script variant of Old Cyrillic Little Yus, and possibly Iotated A. Among modern Slavic languages, it is used in the East Slavic languages and Bulgarian. It is also used in the Cyrillic alphabets used by Mongolian and many Uralic, Caucasian and Turkic languages of the former Soviet Union.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Early Cyrillic alphabet</span> Writing system developed in 9th century Bulgaria

The Early Cyrillic alphabet, also called classical Cyrillic or paleo-Cyrillic, is a writing system that was developed in Medieval Bulgaria in the Preslav Literary School during the late 9th century. The modern Cyrillic script is used for some Slavic languages, and for East European and Asian languages that have experienced a great amount of Russian cultural influence.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Church Slavonic</span> Liturgical language of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Slavic countries

Church Slavonic, also known as Church Slavic, New Church Slavonic, New Church Slavic or just Slavonic, is the conservative Slavic liturgical language used by the Eastern Orthodox Church in Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia. The language appears also in the services of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, and occasionally in the services of the Orthodox Church in America.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">I (Cyrillic)</span> Letter of the Cyrillic script

I is a letter used in almost all Cyrillic alphabets with the exception of Belarusian.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bulgarian alphabet</span> Writing system of the Bulgarian language

The Bulgarian Cyrillic alphabet is used to write the Bulgarian language. The Cyrillic alphabet was originally developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 9th – 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yus</span> Cyrillic letter

Little yus and big yus, or jus, are letters of the Cyrillic script representing two Common Slavonic nasal vowels in the early Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabets. Each can occur in iotated form, formed as ligatures with the decimal i (І). Other yus letters are blended yus (Ꙛ ꙛ), closed little yus (Ꙙ ꙙ) and iotated closed little yus (Ꙝ ꙝ).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Te (Cyrillic)</span> Cyrillic letter

Te is a letter of the Cyrillic script. It commonly represents the voiceless alveolar plosive, like the pronunciation of ⟨t⟩ in "stop". In most cursive writing, lowercase Te looks like the Latin lowercase m.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ukrainian alphabet</span> Alphabet that uses letters from the Cyrillic script

The Ukrainian alphabet is the set of letters used to write Ukrainian, which is the official language of Ukraine. It is one of several national variations of the Cyrillic script. It comes from the Cyrillic script, which was devised in the 9th century for the first Slavic literary language, called Old Slavonic. In the 10th century, it became used in Kievan Rus' to write Old East Slavic, from which the Belarusian, Russian, Rusyn, and Ukrainian alphabets later evolved. The modern Ukrainian alphabet has 33 letters in total: 20 consonants, 2 semivowels, 10 vowels and 1 palatalization sign. Sometimes the apostrophe (') is also included, which has a phonetic meaning and is a mandatory sign in writing, but is not considered as a letter and is not included in the alphabet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Saint Naum</span> Bulgarian writer & missionary

Naum, also known as Naum of Ohrid or Naum of Preslav was a medieval Bulgarian writer, enlightener, one of the Seven Apostles of the First Bulgarian Empire and missionary among the Slavs. He was among the disciples of Cyril and Methodius and is associated with the creation of the Glagolitic and Cyrillic script. Naum was among the founders of the Pliska Literary School. Afterwards Naum worked at the Ohrid Literary School. He was among the first saints declared by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church after its foundation in the 9th century. The mission of Naum played significant role by transformation of the local Early Slavs into Bulgarians.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Izhitsa</span> Cyrillic letter

Izhitsa is a letter of the early Cyrillic alphabet and several later alphabets, usually the last in the row. It originates from the Greek letter upsilon and was used in words and names derived from or via the Greek language, such as кѵрилъ or флаѵии. It represented the sounds or as normal letters и and в, respectively. The Glagolitic alphabet has a corresponding letter with the name izhitsa as well. Also, izhitsa in its standard form or, most often, in a tailed variant was part of a digraph оѵ/оу representing the sound. The digraph is known as Cyrillic "uk", and today's Cyrillic letter u originates from its simplified form.

Scientific transliteration, variously called academic, linguistic, international, or scholarly transliteration, is an international system for transliteration of text from the Cyrillic script to the Latin script (romanization). This system is most often seen in linguistics publications on Slavic languages.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Russian cursive</span> Handwritten form of Russian Cyrillic

Russian cursive is a variant of the Russian alphabet used for writing by hand. It is typically referred to as (ру́сский) рукопи́сный шрифт (rússky) rukopísny shrift, "(Russian) handwritten font". It is the handwritten form of the modern Russian Cyrillic script, used instead of the block letters seen in printed material. In addition, Russian italics for lowercase letters are often based on Russian cursive. Most handwritten Russian, especially in personal letters and schoolwork, uses the cursive alphabet. In Russian schools most children are taught from first grade how to write with this script.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Serbian Cyrillic alphabet</span> Official script of the Serbian language

The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet is a variation of the Cyrillic script used to write the Serbian language, adapted in 1818 by the Serbian philologist and linguist Vuk Karadžić. It is one of the two alphabets used to write modern standard Serbian, the other being Gaj's Latin alphabet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cyrillic alphabets</span> Related alphabets based on Cyrillic scripts

Numerous Cyrillic alphabets are based on the Cyrillic script. The early Cyrillic alphabet was developed in the 9th century AD and replaced the earlier Glagolitic script developed by the Byzantine theologians Cyril and Methodius. It is the basis of alphabets used in various languages, past and present, 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. About half of them are in Russia. Cyrillic is one of the most-used writing systems in the world. The creator is Saint Clement of Ohrid from the Preslav literary school in the First Bulgarian Empire.

As the 9th-century missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius undertook their mission to evangelize to the Slavs of Great Moravia, two writing systems were developed: Glagolitic and Cyrillic. Both scripts were based on the Greek alphabet and share commonalities, but the exact nature of relationship between the Glagolitic alphabet and the Early Cyrillic alphabet, their order of development, and influence on each other has been a matter of great study, controversy, and dispute in Slavic studies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iotated A</span> Cyrillic letter

Iotated A is a letter of the Cyrillic script, built as a ligature of the letters І and А, and used today only in Church Slavonic. It is unusual among early Cyrillic letters in having no direct counterpart in Glagolitic: Ⱑ (jat’) is used for both /ě/ and /ja/. Accordingly, many early Cyrillic texts may use Ѣ for both these purposes; this practice continues into the fourteenth century, but is much more common in the South Slavonic than the East Slavonic area. Nevertheless, is attested in the earliest extant Cyrillic writings, including for example the Codex Suprasliensis and Savvina Kniga - this was not supported to other fonts in other applications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Golden Age of Bulgaria</span>

The Golden Age of Bulgaria is the period of the Bulgarian cultural prosperity during the reign of emperor Simeon I the Great (889—927). The term was coined by Spiridon Palauzov in the mid 19th century. During this period there was an increase of literature, writing, arts, architecture and liturgical reforms.