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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about widdershins

Time Traveler for widdershins

Time Traveler

The first known use of widdershins was in 1545

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about widdershins

Statistics for widdershins

Cite this Entry

“Widdershins.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/widdershins. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

Comments on widdershins

What made you want to look up widdershins? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!