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From Middle English witherward, from Old English wiþerweard (contrary, adverse, hostile), from Proto-Germanic *wiþrawardaz (contrary, adverse, in opposition), equivalent to wither- (against) +‎ -ward. Cognate with Old High German widarwart (witherward), German wiederwärtig (adverse, repulsive), Gothic 𐍅𐌹𐌸𐍂𐌰𐍅𐌰𐌹𐍂𐌸𐍃 (wiþrawairþs, witherward).


witherward (comparative more witherward, superlative most witherward)

  1. Adverse, contrary.
    Such a witherward and rotten friend she was.
  2. Opposite, opposing; hostile.
    • 1852, The whole works of King Alfred the Great:
      [...] then appeared to me along the way by which I formerly came amid the darkness, as it were the brightness of a shining star, and the light was waxing more and more, and quickly hastening to me, and as soon as it came nigh me, then were scattered and away fled all the witherward ghosts, which formerly threatened me with their tongs, [...]
    at the witherward side of the year
    Witherward mishaps.



witherward (comparative more witherward, superlative most witherward)

  1. Contrary to, against.


witherward (uncountable)

  1. Opposite; adversity, opposition; hostility
    • 1850, Henry Mills Alden, Harper's new monthly magazine: Volume 1, Issues 1-6:
      Nor, although be sung the "mighty stream of tendency" of this wondrous age, did he ever launch his poetic craft upon it, nor seem to see the witherward of its swift and awful stress.
    • 1912, American Chemical Society, Journal of the American Chemical Society: Volume 34, Issues 1-6:
      Nevertheless, he cannot be seriously opposed to scientific research as distinguished from technical research for the next four chapters deal with such theoretical subjects as "the question of the atom," "the witherward of matter," "the chemical interpretation of life" and "the beginning of things."
    • 1950, Thomas Hardy, The mayor of Casterbridge:
      They were those of the song he had sung when he arrived years before at the Three Mariners, a poor young man, adventuring for life and fortune, and scarcely knowing witherward: [...]