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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.
Origin of 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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for whetted
Historical Examples
  • The afternoon in the open had whetted their appetites and they enjoyed their meal to the fullest.

    Helen in the Editor's Chair Ruthe S. Wheeler
  • The conditions only whetted the Boxers to greater barbarity.

    Winning the Wilderness Margaret Hill McCarter
  • I have a whetted appetite for what Footner will give us next; I feel sure it will be like no other story of the season.

    When Winter Comes to Main Street Grant Martin Overton
  • They waited for the hour to come, and whetted the knife before I took it in my hands.

    Debts of Honor Maurus Jkai
  • My curiosity was whetted to know whether it was a roast pig or something of a gruesome nature, and I inquired about it.

  • The more I examined the thing, the more it whetted my curiosity.

  • Like sheep hounded into their pinfold; bleating for mercy, where is no mercy, but only a whetted knife?

    Thomas Carlyle Hector Carsewell Macpherson
  • And you'd best take this heavy cutlass which I whetted a-purpose for ye.

    Blackbeard: Buccaneer Ralph D. Paine
  • But how tired we all were by the time we reached Mrs. G.'s home, where a good dinner was awaiting our whetted appetites!

    To and Through Nebraska Frances I. Sims Fulton
  • The blows he had given her on the road had only whetted his passion.

    Lone Pine R. B. (Richard Baxter) Townshend
British Dictionary definitions for whetted


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 whetted



Old English hwettan, from Proto-Germanic *khwatjanan (cf. Old Norse hvetja "to sharpen, encourage," Middle Low German, Middle Dutch wetten, Old High German wezzan, German wetzen "to sharpen," Gothic ga-hvatjan "to sharpen, incite"), from an adjective represented by Old English hwæt "brave, bold," Old Saxon hwat "sharp," from Proto-Germanic *khwataz, from PIE root *qwed- "sharp" (cf. Sanskrit codati "incites," literally "sharpens"). Figurative sense was in Old English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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