adverb Chiefly Scot.

in a direction contrary to the natural one, especially contrary to the apparent course of the sun or counterclockwise: considered as unlucky or causing disaster.

Also wid·der·shins [wid-er-shinz] /ˈwɪd ərˌʃɪnz/.
Compare deasil.

Origin of withershins

1505–15; < Middle Low German weddersin(ne)s < Middle High German widdersinnes, equivalent to wider (Old High German widar) opposite (see with) + sinnes, genitive of sin way, course (cognate with Old English sīth); see send1, -s1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for widdershins

Historical Examples of widdershins

  • Once he built a small outdoor fire and walked around it, widdershins, for several minutes.


    Laurence Mark Janifer (AKA Larry M. Harris)

  • That was the wrong way round—the unlucky, uncanonical direction; the evil way, widdershins, the opposite of sunwise.

    Hilda Wade

    Grant Allen

British Dictionary definitions for widdershins



mainly Scot a variant spelling of withershins



adverb mainly Scot

in the direction contrary to the apparent course of the sun; anticlockwise
in a direction contrary to the usual; in the wrong directionCompare deasil

Word Origin for withershins

C16: from Middle Low German weddersinnes, from Middle High German, literally: opposite course, from wider against + sinnes, genitive of sin course
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for widdershins

1510s, chiefly Scottish, originally "contrary to the course of the sun or a clock" (movement in this direction considered unlucky), probably from Middle Low German weddersinnes, literally "against the way" (i.e. "in the opposite direction"), from widersinnen "to go against," from wider "against" (see with) + sinnen "to travel, go," from Old High German sinnen, related to sind "journey" (see send).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper