Word of the DaySunday, May 04, 2014
\WITH-er-shinz\ , 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, widdershins.
There, as the moon rises, walk three times withershins round the riven trunk, and cast the broth on the ground before her.
-- Walter Douglas Campbell, Beyond the Border, 1898
To move against the sun was improper and productive of evil consequences, and the name given to this direction of movement was withershins.
-- James Napier, Folk lore: or, Superstitious Beliefs in the West of Scotland Within This Century, 1879
Withershins comes from the Middle High German wider meaning "against; opposite" and sin "way; course." It entered English in the early 1500s.
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