[hwet, wet]

verb (used with object), whet·ted, whet·ting.

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 formswhet·ter, nounun·whet·ted, adjective
Can be confusedwet whet
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for whet

Contemporary Examples of whet

Historical Examples of whet

  • 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.


    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?

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

    Oswald Langdon

    Carson Jay Lee

British Dictionary definitions for whet


verb whets, whetting or whetted (tr)

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 Formswhetter, noun

Word Origin for whet

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

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