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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 whetting
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The old woman kept letting her smell the food and whetting her appetite.

  • I fancy it was the parrot at the window, whetting his bill upon his cage-wires.

  • For while raising hopes and whetting appetites, it does nothing to satisfy them; on the contrary, it does much to disappoint them.

  • Perhaps you have been whetting your teeth at Easter and Michaelmas?

    Poems of The Third Period Friedrich Schiller
  • So happily had he succeeded in whetting her curiosity that she begged—nay, insisted—that he should finish his sentence.

    Count Bunker J. Storer Clouston
  • The birds warbled, and the mowers were whetting their scythes in the fields.

    Molly and Kitty Olga Eschenbach
  • Tocktamish poured half a flagon of Chian wine into a tall Venetian beaker and drank it off by way of whetting his appetite.

    Arethusa F. Marion Crawford
  • It is just to your duty, as the mower's whetting to his scythe, to make it for to do his work.

  • In whetting the points hold the pen at an angle of 12 degrees.

British Dictionary definitions for whetting


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
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Word Origin and History for whetting



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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