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From Middle English wetnes, wetnesse, from Old English wǣtnes (moisture, wetness), equivalent to wet +‎ -ness.



wetness (usually uncountable, plural wetnesses)

  1. The condition of being wet.
    • 1823, Walter Scott, chapter 3, in Quentin Durward[1]:
      The young man looked long and fixedly on the place, the sight of which interested him so much that he had forgotten, in the eagerness of youthful curiosity, the wetness of his dress.
    • 1864, Henry David Thoreau, “Ktaadn”, in The Maine Woods[2]:
      The first business was to make a fire, an operation which was a little delayed by the wetness of the fuel and the ground, owing to the heavy showers of the afternoon.
    Adult disposable diapers with wetness indicator.
  2. Moisture.
    • 1864, George MacDonald, chapter 8, in The Light Princess[3]:
      “Oh! if I had my gravity,” thought she, contemplating the water, “I would flash off this balcony like a long white sea-bird, headlong into the darling wetness. Heigh-ho!”
    • 1958, Chinua Achebe, chapter 4, in Things Fall Apart, New York: Astor-Honor, published 1959:
      And so nature was not interfered with in the middle of the rainy season. Sometimes it poured down in such thick sheets of water that earth and sky seemed merged in one grey wetness.
  3. Rainy or damp weather.
    • 1797, Tobias Smollett et al., The History of England, from the Revolution to the End of the American War and the Peace of Versailles in 1783, Philadelphia: Robert Campbell, Volume 4, Book 5, p. 484,[4]
      They complained, that the wetness of the season, and the scarcity of fodder in the year 1762, with other natural causes, had reduced the quantity of fat cattle, by discouraging the farmers from rearing them.
    • 1941, Emily Carr, chapter 4, in Klee Wyck[5]:
      Tanoo, Skedans and Cumshewa lie fairly close to each other on the map, yet each is quite unlike the others when you come to it. All have the West Coast wetness but Cumshewa seems always to drip, always to be blurred with mist, its foliage always to hang wet-heavy.