I am not talking about anterior, posterior, etc... I am looking for words specifically relating to movement.

Long description... In the mythos I am working on, mages learn to control objects in three dimensional space. They first learn to summon objects within six different spaces.

  • Anterior = Front
  • Posterior = Back
  • Superior = Upper
  • Inferior = Lower
  • Dextral = Right hand side
  • Sinistral = Left hand side

After learning to summon objects fluently in all six spaces, they learn to "throw" objects in different directions.

For example: a student would consistently summon a stone in the dextral, superior space (to their right side just above their head). An instructor would shout directions and the student would have to "throw" the stone in the correct direction. So, any object moving in an anterior direction according to the perspective of the mage, regardless of where it was summoned, would be moving "forward" or ???. Any object moving in a dextral direction according to the perspective of the mage, regardless of where it was summoned, would be moving "to the right" or ???, etc...

I have accepted that I may just have to use the words right, left, forward, back, up, and down. I just want to see if I'm missing some more specific/scientific terms.

To clarify: this isn't fur the reader's benefit, I am trying to find weird that would cost approximate what the instructors would be using in their teaching. The people that use magic are very scientific, dictionary, vocabulary oriented and using common terms like up, down, left, right would be to, well, common.

  • $\begingroup$ Just do them in a different language? Or use aeronautical roll / pitch / yaw rotation-based movements instead of axial movement $\endgroup$ – user535733 Aug 6 '19 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 I could redefine and use those, but I would still need three more terms. $\endgroup$ – Hexaflop Aug 6 '19 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ Wait, are you looking for word to describe the directions to the reader, or to have the mage use them in lore? I mean word they use are probably more related to their culture than to our science. $\endgroup$ – Theraot Aug 6 '19 at 4:52
  • $\begingroup$ That would be "sinistral", of course, not **sinstral. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 6 '19 at 5:17
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    $\begingroup$ As a general rule, we don't do "what should I call X?" types of questions, because they aren't really related to building the world itself per se. Can you please edit to clarify how the answers to this would influence the world you're building, or an element of the world, as opposed to just being a storytelling element (how characters refer to something in particular)? $\endgroup$ – a CVn Aug 6 '19 at 5:34

Anatomy has some useful words:

Superior  -> Above
Inferior  -> Below
Ventral   -> Fore of the body
Dorsal    -> Back of the body
Frontal   -> Fore of the head
Occipital -> Back of the head
Distal    -> Out, towards the tip of extremities
Proximal  -> In, towards the body
Rostral   -> Towards the face
Caudal    -> Towards the tail

They say left and right in anatomy, as far as I can tell.

I found usage of Lateral for right and Contra-lateral for left.

We can import some words from heraldry for left and right:

Dexter    -> Right (of the knight or shield, not the observer)
Sinister  -> Left (of the knight or shield, not the observer)

I think you will prefer Sinistral and Dextral, by the way. Which are the words we use for chirality. They would work like Port and Starboard in that they always refer to direction relative to the observed, except you do not have to explain why mages talk about ports.

I also want to bring into attention these words from physics and chemistry:

Dextrorotation ->  Clockwise rotation
Levorotation   ->  Counterclockwise rotation

Note: these are always respect the observer. We do not say the hands of the clock are rotating counterclockwise when we are behind it.

Speaking of rotation, anatomy has some:

Anteversion  -> Rotate to the front
Retroversion -> Rotate to the back


Longitudinal -> Head to tail
Horizontal   -> Side to side
Sagittal     -> Front to back

And planes:

Coronal      -> Separates front and back
Transversal  -> Separates top and bottom
Median       -> Separates left and right

Oh, by the way, in astronomy they use Zenith and Nadir for up and down... not of the observer, not of the observed... but as absolute orientation. You can use them to complement the cardinal directions (North, South, East/Orient, West/Occident).

Note: It is worth mentioning that some language do not have relative positions. Instead people use cardinal directions always.

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you sure of the Axis names for normal situations? In aviation, when speaking about the planes of orientation we use longitudinal, from the nose to the tail of the aircraft, the lateral or horizontal from wing tip to wingtip, or side to side, and we use vertical or normal for the axis running from the roof to the floor. $\endgroup$ – Umbra Aug 6 '19 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Umbra sounds correct to me. Edit: perhaps what bothers you is longitudinal would be earth to sky for a person in anatomical position. However, I do not think of airplains as having their head ontop. So, head to tail in the plain, what is that? (I'll put tail instead of toe in the answer). Edit: then somebody will come telling me that humans don't have tails :S $\endgroup$ – Theraot Aug 6 '19 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ Sagittal (only one g and double t, from sagitta "arrow"), not **saggital. (Remember that, unlile in English, in Latin double consonants are actually pronounced different from simple consontants. Sagittalis and **saggitalis sound very different. There is no Latin word beginning with sagg-.) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 6 '19 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Theraot As per the first sentence of normal situation. A quick google search of the sagittal axis with a human indicates that it is as your answer says. attaching a link to a nice page I have just found with axes in regards to human anatomy. physio-pedia.com/Cardinal_Planes_and_Axes_of_Movement $\endgroup$ – Umbra Aug 6 '19 at 11:46

How about you use ship orientations?

Front...Fore Back.....Aft Left.....Port Right....Starboard Up.......Zenith Down.....Nadir

Or perhaps orbital orientations? These are for counterclockwise orbits:

Front...Prograde Back.....Retrograde Left.....Anti-radial Right....Radial Up.......Normal Down.....Anti-normal

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Expanding upon user535733's comment a Roll Pitch Yaw and Fire system would be far simpler. You summon an object and then you orient it with the Roll Pitch and Yaw. You can then say the trigger word or Fire word, and this will cause the projectile to launch itself in a given direction with mathematical accuracy. If you would like to increase the mystic of such a system, simply use a made up number system.

If you instead use a 6 directional you start to over complicate your system. Take for example, the direction Forward. Is it forward from the Objects default orientation? Or forward from the Mages direction? Is this direction based on the head? or the body of the mage? Or maybe there is an absolute direction that is forward?

You also greatly increase the complexity to gain flexibility. Say I want to launch it at 45 degrees instead. Would that be Forward Left? what about 22.5 degrees? Forward Forward Left? What if it wasn't any easy to each number like 20 degrees instead? A 6 directional system lacks the ability to define the direction exactly as you want and will cause issues when you might want specific angles instead of moving things in a grid like manner.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why use roll in this system? It complicates things and orientation is not mentioned in the question. A system based on azimuth and elevation only would be simpler and more intuitive. $\endgroup$ – Innovine Aug 6 '19 at 6:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Innovine I include it because the transformations equations I remember included it. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Aug 6 '19 at 7:05
  • $\begingroup$ Just as a comment, Roll, pitch and yaw are not directions, they are words describing movement. When we say that we are pitching upwards, it means that the nose of the aircraft is moving upwards in relation to the horizon for instance, or we are rolling to the right, or clockwise. You could use these to describe what your stone does once you launch it, giving final adjustments for a precision hit though. $\endgroup$ – Umbra Aug 6 '19 at 9:53
  • $\begingroup$ The six directions does leave something to be desired, I agree. It is just a starting point in their training. I like the degrees idea for more accurate shots though. Thanks. I started at the beginning of the training prices and am working my way through so I hadn't developed that far yet. $\endgroup$ – Hexaflop Aug 6 '19 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ Umbra: roll pitch and yaw can refer to direction too of course. If straight ahead is a yaw of 0, a yaw of 90 is to the right. This does require a fixed reference, but its also totally acceptable for describing relative direction, as effective as front, top, left..the roll may be redundant in a direction, the other two are more commonly referred to as azimuth and elevation, not yaw and pitch, but thats just different names on the same concept. $\endgroup$ – Innovine Aug 6 '19 at 18:15

Why do they not think in polar coordinate system? The one moving the objects could be in the middle and then you could define any number of directions based on the dominant number system in your world (e.g. octal, hexadecimal etc.) enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ This is known as azimuth. You can add the angle of elevation too, and the pair gives you a reference to any point on a sphere. $\endgroup$ – Innovine Aug 6 '19 at 6:35
  • $\begingroup$ You can offset the centerpoint by a known, secret quantity, so all callouts are more difficult to intercept. For example, "bullseye 100,45, 5m" refers to an angle of 100 degrees clockwise from north, 45 up and a distance of 5m from the bullseye location. Without knowing where bullseye is, you cannot decypher the reference. Just in case the enemy are listening. This is common in military parlance. You just switch bullseye position now and then $\endgroup$ – Innovine Aug 6 '19 at 6:40
  • $\begingroup$ Eventually, this is probably like what they'll use. The six directions is just for early training. I like these suggestions though, thanks! $\endgroup$ – Hexaflop Aug 6 '19 at 14:01

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