all wet, Informal. completely mistaken; in error: He insisted that our assumptions were all wet.
    wet behind the ears, immature; naive; green: She was too wet behind the ears to bear such responsibilities.
    wet one's whistle. whistle(def 15).
    wet out, to treat (fabric) with a wetting agent to increase its absorbency.

Origin of wet

before 900; Middle English wett, past participle of weten, Old English wǣtan to wet; replacing Middle English weet, Old English wǣt, cognate with Old Frisian wēt, Old Norse vātr; akin to water
Related formswet·ly, adverbwet·ness, nounwet·ter, nounwet·tish, adjectivenon·wet·ted, adjectivere·wet, verb re·wet or re·wet·ted, re·wet·ting.un·wet, adjectiveun·wet·ted, adjective
Can be confusedwet whet

Synonyms for wet

1. dampened, drenched. 4. misty, drizzling. 7. humid. 10. wetness, humidity, dampness, dankness. 11. drizzle. 14. Wet, drench, saturate, soak imply moistening something. To wet is to moisten in any manner with water or other liquid: to wet or dampen a cloth. Drench suggests wetting completely as by a downpour: A heavy rain drenched the fields. Saturate implies wetting to the limit of absorption: to saturate a sponge. To soak is to keep in a liquid for a time: to soak beans before baking.

Antonyms for wet

1. dry. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for wet behind the ears


adjective wetter or wettest

moistened, covered, saturated, etc, with water or some other liquid
not yet dry or solidwet varnish
rainy, foggy, misty, or humidwet weather
employing a liquid, usually watera wet method of chemical analysis
mainly US and Canadian characterized by or permitting the free sale of alcoholic beveragesa wet state
British informal feeble or foolish
wet behind the ears informal immature or inexperienced; naive


wetness or moisture
damp or rainy weather
British informal a Conservative politician who is considered not to be a hard-linerCompare dry (def. 21)
British informal a feeble or foolish person
mainly US and Canadian a person who advocates free sale of alcoholic beverages
the wet Australian (in northern and central Australia) the rainy season

verb wets, wetting, wet or wetted

to make or become wet
to urinate on (something)
(tr) dialect to prepare (tea) by boiling or infusing
wet one's whistle informal to take an alcoholic drink
Derived Formswetly, adverbwetness, nounwettability, nounwettable, adjectivewetter, nounwettish, adjective

Word Origin for wet

Old English wǣt; related to Old Frisian wēt, Old Norse vātr, Old Slavonic vedro bucket
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

Word Origin and History for wet behind the ears



Old English wætan "to be wet;" see wet (adj.). Related: Wetted; wetting.



Old English wæt "moist, liquid," from Proto-Germanic *wætaz (cf. Old Frisian wet ). Also from the Old Norse form, vatr. All related to water (n.1).

Wet blanket "person who has a dispiriting effect" is recorded from 1879, from use of blankets drenched in water to smother fires (the phrase is attested in this literal sense from 1660s). All wet "in the wrong" is recorded from 1923, American English; earlier simply wet "ineffectual," and perhaps ultimately from slang meaning "drunken" (c.1700). Wet-nurse is from 1610s. Wet dream is from 1851; in the same sense Middle English had ludificacioun "an erotic dream."

He knew som tyme a man of religion, þat gaff hym gretelie vnto chastitie bothe of his harte & of his body noghtwithstondyng he was tempid with grete ludificacions on þe nyght. ["Alphabet of Tales," c.1450]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

wet behind the ears in Culture

wet behind the ears

Immature, inexperienced, and naïve: “Don't rely on his advice about girlfriends; he's still wet behind the ears.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with wet behind the ears

wet behind the ears

Also, not dry behind the ears. Immature, inexperienced, as in How can you take instructions from Tom? He's still wet behind the ears, or Jane's not dry behind the ears yet. This term alludes to the fact that the last place to dry in a newborn colt or calf is the indentation behind its ears. [Early 1900s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with wet

  • wet behind the ears
  • wet blanket
  • wet one's whistle

also see:

  • all wet
  • get one's feet wet
  • like (wet as) a drowned rat
  • mad as a hornet (wet hen)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.