Circular motion can occur in two possible directions. A clockwise (typically abbreviated as CW) motion is one that proceeds in the same direction as a clock's hands: from the top to the right, then down and then to the left, and back to the top. The opposite sense of rotation or revolution is (in Commonwealth English) anticlockwise (ACW), or (in North American English) counterclockwise (CCW). In a mathematical sense, a circle defined parametrically in a positive Cartesian plane by the equations x = cos t and y = sin t is traced counterclockwise as t increases in value.
Before clocks were commonplace, the terms "sunwise" and "deiseil" and even "doecil" from the Scottish Gaelic language and from the same root as the Latin "dexter" ("right") were used for clockwise. "Widdershins" or "withershins" (from Middle Low German "weddersinnes", "opposite course") was used for counterclockwise.
The terms clockwise and counterclockwise can only be applied to a rotational motion once a side of the rotational plane is specified, from which the rotation is observed. For example, the daily rotation of the Earth is counterclockwise when viewed from above the North Pole, and clockwise when viewed from