From Merriam Webster:
Main Entry: wid·der·shins
Etymology: Middle Low German weddersinnes, from Middle High German widersinnes, from widersinnen to go against, from wider back against (from Old High German widar) + sinnen to travel, go; akin to Old High German sendan to send – more at WITH, SEND
: in a left-handed, wrong, or contrary direction : COUNTERCLOCKWISE – compare DEASIL
Main Entry: dea·sil
Etymology: Scottish Gaelic deiseil; akin to Latin dexter right hand
: CLOCKWISE – compare WIDDERSHINS
It appears the writer on the Randomhouse link above has taken some liberty with the definition of these two words. Seeking to equate the motion of the sun with the right or left hand depends on which direction you are facing, and can hardly be said to be a definitive method for denoting rotary motion. (Here we go again with the right-hand rule ‘paradox’ crapola).
I might add, the shadow of a gnomon in the northern hemisphere rotates clockwise in relation to its base, but just the opposite in the southern hemisphere no matter which direction you are facing.
But the killer for the “against the sun” theory is, both of these words antecede the invention of the spring-wound dial clock, circa 1500 in Germany. It’s interesting to note the concept of widdershins is dated 1513 German. I suggest the word was created to denote the anti-clockwise direction, just like “counterclockwise” was in the English language. The Gaelic word deasil apparently means nothing more than the dictionary definition, and the Latin root has nothing whatsoever to do with the sun but everything to do with a clock face.
In my opinion, there were no words for CW or
CCW before the invention of the clock - such words would have been meaningless. The Randomhouse dude is telling fairy tales.