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 withershins

Historical Examples of withershins

  • But this is telling our tale "withershins about," as they say in Netherby.

    Cleg Kelly, Arab of the City

    S. R. (Samuel Rutherford) Crockett

  • To go 'withershins' seems to have been reserved for cursing and excommunication.

    Balder The Beautiful, Vol. I.

    Sir James George Frazer

  • To go round the person in the opposite direction, or “withershins,” is an evil incantation and brings ill-fortune.

    The Kath Sarit Sgara

    Somadeva Bhatta

  • A weak man like his learned brother Withershins was not a judge to keep the high-roads safe, and make crime tremble.

    In a Glass Darkly, v. 1/3

    Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

  • Having arrived at their rendezvous, they danced round it ‘withershins’—that is, in reverse of the apparent motion of the sun.

    Witch, Warlock, and Magician

    William Henry Davenport Adams

British Dictionary definitions for 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