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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Widdersyns, -schinnis, adv. Also: wid(d)er-, widdir-, wyddyr-, wirder-, wod(d)er-, woudder-, wooder-, uouddir-, weddir-, wither- and -synnys, -sinnis, -sins, -son(n)is, -sones, -sounes, -schins, -schynnys, -schynnis, -s(c)hyn(n)es, -s(c)hin(n)is, -s(c)hin(n)es, -shin(n)s, -shunes, -shin. [MLG weddersin(ne)s, MDu. wedersins ‘contrario modo’ (Kilian), OE and early ME wiþer- against.] In a direction opposite to the usual, in the wrong direction. Chiefly of the hair, pulled, etc. against the direction of growth, esp. const. Stand v., Start v. 9 b, (to stand) on end. See also Turn v. 30 for a further example. b. specif.In witchcraft or as an unlucky omen: Construed as the direction opposite to that of the apparent motion of the sun, anti-clockwise.(a) 1513 Doug. Direct. 29.
Nane othir thyng thai threpe heir wrocht haue I Bot fenȝeit fabillys of idolatry With sik myscheif as aucht not namyt be … And on the bak half wrytis wyddyr synnys [Sm. widdirsinnis, Ruddim. weddir schynnys] Plente of lesyngis, and ald perversyt synnys
1513 Doug. ii xii 26 (Sm.) (see Start v. 9 b).
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 11.
Propone to ȝourself the Duik of Alvais example; that is, to cut fra the shulders up for the first fault: and that will gar thair hartis trumbill, and thair hair stand widdirshynes
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 580 (T).
Streichlie hairis blavin widdersins [H. withershines] abauk
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xlviii 160.
Quhill we war past our hair stude widdershins. God saifd our ship, and ruled our noble ruther, And helpt vs throu
a1605 Montg. Sonn. xxxiii 6.
Sho held my heed, And straikit bakuard wodershins my hair
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 185/666.
Her haire startis uouddirshinnis [1591 wouddershunes] & quhyles her burning eies doth makk To reile
1685 Sinclair Satan's Inv. World 211.
He betooched himself strongly and earnestly to God though with great amazement, his hair standing widdershins in his head
(b) 1570 Calderwood II 522.
Yee must come in there, and be bold among them, and that will gar all their hearts tremble and their haire start widdershin
b. (1) 1545 Elgin Rec. I 84.
Sayand the said Margarat Baffour vas ane huyr and ane wyche and that sche ȝeid widersonnis about mennis hous sark alane
a1605 Montg. Flyt. 418 (T).
Thir venerabill virginis quhome ȝe wald call wiches … nyne tymes, wirdersones, about the thorne raid
1591 Crim. Trials I ii 246.
1615 Elgin Rec. II 143.
Margarat Davidsone quhan scho sa the new moyne scho ran thrys widdersones about
(b) 1590 Crim. Trials I ii 212.
1590–1 Crim. Trials I ii 239.
The wemen maid fyrst thair homage [to the Devil], and nixt the men. The men wer turnit nyne tymes widderschinnes about and the wemen sax tymes
1623 Crim. Trials III 557.
In cureing of his wyfe, be causeing ane grit fyre to be put on, and ane hoill to be maid in the north side of the hous, and ane quik hen to be put furth thairat, at thre seuerall tymes, and tane in at the hous-dur widderschynnes [etc.]
1628 Dumbarton B. Rec. 28.
The complaint … alledgeand that … the said Janet gave him monie injurious words, and struik him, and pullit his cluik, and wold have turnit him round about widderschinis
1629 Justiciary Cases I 101.
1632 Justiciary Cases I 211.
The said Aliesone past thryse widdershynnis about the said Issobel hir bed muttering out certane charmes in unknawen wordis … and thairby cureing of the said Issobell of hir diseas … be hir devillrie and witchcraft
1685 Sinclair Satan's Inv. World 25.
1697 Renfrewshire Witches 102.
Upon the pronouncing of some words, and turning himself about wider-shins, that is turning himself round from the right hand to the left, contrary to the natural course of the sun
(c) 1584 Sempill in Sat. P. xlv 704.
Ane porter … to the bischop his blissing gave, Betuixt the schoulders a royall route, Turning him wodderschins about
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I 190.
He is indyttit … to haue taine ane birne of the corne on his bak, and careit it thrie tymmis woodersonis abowe the kill
(d) 1629 Black Sc. Witches 5.
1634 Spottiswoode Misc. II 65.
That she used conjurations, and ran withershinns in the Mill of Eymout
1682 Lauder Observes 61.
Margaret Dougall … for discovery of the theiff, raises the Devill by the turning the riddle 3 tymes withershines
(e) 1650 Culross I 239.
[To] goe three tymes withersones about and say, All the evel that is on him bee on the gowen
(2) 1596–7 Misc. Spald. C. I 96.
I find it wilbe ane deir yeir; the bled of the corne growis withersones; and quhan it growis sonegatis about, it wilbe ane gude chaip yeir

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"Widdersyns adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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