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[hwet, wet] /ʰwɛt, wɛt/
verb (used with object), whetted, whetting.
to sharpen (a knife, tool, etc.) by grinding or friction.
to make keen or eager; stimulate:
to whet the appetite; to whet the curiosity.
the act of whetting.
something that whets; appetizer or drink.
Chiefly Southern U.S.
  1. a spell of work.
  2. a while:
    to talk a whet.
before 900; Middle English whetten (v.), Old English hwettan (derivative of hwæt bold); cognate with German wetzen, Old Norse hvetja, Gothic gahwatjan to incite
Related forms
whetter, noun
unwhetted, adjective
Can be confused
wet, whet. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for whet
  • Another swallower works underwater, in what may be a futile attempt to whet the blade.
  • They are conversation pieces that whet the imagination.
  • The media mogul and philanthropist aims to whet a public taste for the low-fat bison burger.
  • Purists have sought to revive the sound of wh, especially where confusion might result, as in whet contrasted with wet.
  • Anyway, that's a historical fillip to whet your attention.
  • When a wire edge forms on the full length of the blade, lightly whet the flat side to remove it.
British Dictionary definitions for whet


verb (transitive) whets, whetting, whetted
to sharpen, as by grinding or friction
to increase or enhance (the appetite, desire, etc); stimulate
the act of whetting
a person or thing that whets
Derived Forms
whetter, noun
Word Origin
Old English hwettan; related to hvæt sharp, Old High German hwezzen, Old Norse hvetja, Gothic hvatjan
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for whet
O.E. hwettan, from P.Gmc. *khwatjanan (cf. O.N. hvetja "to sharpen, encourage," M.L.G., M.Du. wetten, O.H.G. wezzan, Ger. wetzen "to sharpen," Goth. ga-hvatjan "to sharpen, incite"), from an adj. represented by O.E. hwæt "brave, bold," O.S. hwat "sharp," from P.Gmc. *khwataz, from PIE base *qwed- "sharp" (cf. Skt. codati "incites," lit. "sharpens"). Fig. sense was in O.E.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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