[ with-er-shinz ]

adverbChiefly Scot.
  1. 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.

Origin of withershins

First recorded in 1505–15; from Middle Low German weddersin(ne)s, from 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;contrasted with deasil
  • Also wid·der·shins [wid-er-shinz] /ˈwɪd ərˌʃɪnz/ .

Words Nearby withershins

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use withershins in a sentence

  • 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
  • It is a rough insulated mass, of considerable dimensions, and it is held unlucky to ride thrice withershins around it.

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

    Cleg Kelly, Arab of the City | S. R. (Samuel Rutherford) Crockett
  • Mr. German Doustercivil, the agent at Glen-withershins mining-works.

    The Antiquary, Complete | Sir Walter Scott
  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for withershins



/ (ˈwɪðəˌʃɪnz, Scottish ˈwɪðər-) /

adverbmainly Scot
  1. in the direction contrary to the apparent course of the sun; anticlockwise

  2. in a direction contrary to the usual; in the wrong direction: Compare deasil

Origin of 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