Which term is more used in everyday English and which in formal/professional environment?

2 Answers 2


They both mean the same, and there's no context where one would be preferred over the other. All you really need to know is that Americans almost exclusively use counterclockwise...

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...whereas Brits are just as happy using anticlockwise...

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But if you want to really impress people with your knowledge of obscure/dialectal/archaic forms, you might like to note that widdershins is another synonym.

  • 1
    As a note to the non-natives, FumbleFingers is being tongue-in-cheek when he mentions "really impressing" people. Yes, widdershins is an obscure synonym. No, most people won't be "impressed" if you use it.
    – J.R.
    Jul 24, 2013 at 19:54
  • I haven't heard anyone use “counterclockwise” in the UK. Is it American in origin?
    – Tristan
    Jul 24, 2013 at 20:57
  • @J.R.: I admit I was being a bit tongue in cheek there. But I can certainly imagine the likes of RegDwight casually coming out with widdershins - that's the kind of thing that does impress me, considering he used to profile himself as a "native speaker" of two languages, neither of which are English. Jul 24, 2013 at 20:59
  • @Tristan: If you toggle this anti/counter-terrorist chart between UK/US corpora, I think you'll agree that Americans have a general preference for counter- rather than anti- in such contexts. But I find it surprising you've not heard Brits using “counterclockwise” - the charts above reflect my own preconception that we use both. I certainly do myself. Jul 24, 2013 at 21:06
  • FF, maybe it's a regional thing and more common in your part of the world.
    – Tristan
    Jul 24, 2013 at 21:09

I usually type the keyword within double quotes and see the number of result. The larger number implies people prefers this one to another.




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