Word for Wednesday: Widdershins

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This week’s Word for Wednesday goes against the grain…

Here’s a question. What is the opposite of clockwise?

Is it counter-clockwise? Anti-clockwise?

Neither of these would be incorrect - but suffice to say, there is another way. A much more satisfying word.

Originating from German, the word ‘widdershins’ surfaced in the early 16th century as a synonym to counter-clockwise.

Having a bad hair day? If so, ‘widdershins’ can also be used to describe the unfortunate state of your rebellious locks.

The word itself comprises of two parts: ‘wider’ meaning ‘against’ and ‘sin’ meaning ‘direction’.

If you’re a fan of Terry Pratchett’s weird and wonderful Discworld novels you’ll be no stranger to the word ‘widdershins’ – but perhaps you can now relax in the knowledge that it is a real word, and even find the confidence to slip it into conversation!

Hugh MacDermott

06 May 2015
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