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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for whet
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • To whet my appetite for Egypt now, I have to have something tasty.

    It Happened in Egypt C. N. Williamson
  • We need something to awaken our attention, to whet our appetite, and to contrast our joys.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • No more than that; nothing that can betray us; yet enough to whet his lordship's appetite.

    The Lion's Skin Rafael Sabatini
  • And have you thought how to whet the courage of your troopers?

    The Memorabilia Xenophon
  • Difficulties served to whet Sir Donald's desire for success.

    Oswald Langdon Carson Jay Lee
  • But hunger will whet his appetite for anything that his bowels can digest.

  • I fear we shall none of us get more than will whet our appetite.

    Sir Ludar Talbot Baines Reed
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

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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