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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 whetted
Historical Examples
  • The little tastes of apple that he got only whetted his appetite.

    Johnny Bear E. T. Seton
  • Luella had elected him for her next; but he was away, and she whetted her wits on Eddie.

    In a Little Town Rupert Hughes
  • They waited for the hour to come, and whetted the knife before I took it in my hands.

    Debts of Honor Maurus Jkai
  • The more I examined the thing, the more it whetted my curiosity.

  • This only whetted the zeal and inquisitiveness of the inquisitors.

    Marion's Faith. Charles King
  • Every knife in all his band was whetted for that particular scalp.

    Under Fire Charles King
  • The more nearly the chisel can be whetted at the angle at which it was ground the better.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes
  • The conditions only whetted the Boxers to greater barbarity.

    Winning the Wilderness Margaret Hill McCarter
  • But oddly enough, the aggressive criticism only whetted his purpose.

  • The notch in Skofnung they whetted, but the more they whetted the bigger it was.

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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