This is from Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day email for Oct. 7, 2011:
The Word of the Day for October 7 is:
widdershins WID-er-shinz adverb
: in a left-handed, wrong, or contrary direction : counterclockwise
We turned right out of the gates and walked the exterior perimeter of the gardens slowly before turning around and walking it again widdershins.
“The ships were locked together, rotating widdershins around their common axis. Their anchor flukes had become tangled; the sterns were singing together.” — From David Drake’s 2011 novel Out of the Waters
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.