Sunday, December 30, 2007

Word of the day

Word of the DayWiddershins (withershins) (adverb)
Pronunciation: ['wid-êr-shinz]
Definition: Moving in a direction opposite the usual; moving counterclockwise or in the contrary direction (of the sun, especially).
Usage: Today's word is basically an adverb but may be used as an adjective without the final [s]. As a predicate adjective, however, the [s] is usually left on. D. H. Lawrence wrote in 'Plumed Serpent' (1926) "She made up her mind, to be alone, and to cut herself off from all the mechanical widdershin contacts. He, too, was widdershins, unwinding the sensations of disintegration and anti-life."
Suggested Usage: Today's word is another wonderword from the land of kilts and bagpipes that we should all fight to keep alive: "Gerard does everything widdershins; he will either turn out a grandiose success or an abrupt failure." Niches for this word abound in everyday conversations: "Remember, the prophets agree that you get nowhere walking widdershins up the escalator."
Etymology: Middle Low German weddersinnes based on wider "back," whence German wider "against" and wieder "again." The English adverb wither "wrong, perverse" is rarely used any more. The "shins" is from earlier "sinnes" and is related to Latin sentire "sense, feel" since both go back to an original root *sent- "go in or choose a direction." We borrowed "sense" from the noun of this verb. The same root also turns up in English send "to cause someone to go in a direction."
–Dr. Language,

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