wid·​der·​shins | \ ˈwi-dər-shənz How to pronounce widdershins (audio) \
variants: or less commonly \ ˈwi-​t͟hər-​shənz How to pronounce widdershins (audio) \

Definition of widdershins

: in a left-handed, wrong, or contrary direction : counterclockwise — compare deasil

Did You Know?

Legend holds that demons always approached the devil widdershins. Not surprisingly, such a path was considered evil and unlucky. By the mid-1500s, English speakers had adopted "widdershins," (from the Old High German widar, meaning "back" or "against," and sinnen, meaning "to travel") for anything following a path opposite to the direction the sun travels across the sky (that is, counterclockwise). But in its earliest known uses "widdershins" was far less malignant; it was used simply to describe a case of bad hair in which unruly locks stood on end or fell the wrong way.

First Known Use of widdershins

1545, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for widdershins

Middle Low German weddersinnes, from Middle High German widersinnes, from widersinnen to go against, from wider back against (from Old High German widar) + sinnen to travel, go; akin to Old High German sendan to send — more at with, send

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The first known use of widdershins was in 1545

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Cite this Entry

“Widdershins.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/widdershins. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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