Cyrillic alphabet (Кириллица)

Cyrillic alphabet (Кириллица)


The Cyrillic alphabet is named after St. Cyril, a missionary from Byzantium. It was invented sometime during the 10th century AD, possibly by St. Kliment of Ohrid, to write the Old Church Slavonic language. The Cyrillic alphabet achieved its current form in 1708 during the reign of Peter the Great. Four letters were eliminated from the alphabet in a 1917/18 reform.
The Cyrillic alphabet has been adapted to write over 50 different languages, mainly in Russia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. In many cases additional letters are used, some of which are adaptations of standard Cyrillic letters, while others are taken from the Greek or Latin alphabets.

Development of the Cyrillic alphabet

10th century version, as used to write Old Church Slavonic

Old Church Slavonic version of the Cyrillic alphabet (10th century)

1708 version

The 1708 verison of the Cyrillic alphabet

The letters in blue had fallen out of use by the 1800 century. The letters in red were eliminated in the 1918 reform.

1918 version

The 1918 version of Cyrillic alphabet
The names of the letters are in Russian.


Download a Cyrillic alphabet chart in PDF format.