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From Middle English whetten, from Old English hwettan (to whet, sharpen, incite, encourage), from Proto-Germanic *hwatjaną (to incite, sharpen), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷēd- (sharp). Cognate with Dutch wetten (to whet, sharpen), German wetzen (to whet, sharpen), Icelandic hvetja (to whet, encourage, catalyze), dialectal Danish hvæde (to whet).



whet (third-person singular simple present whets, present participle whetting, simple past and past participle whetted)

  1. (transitive) To hone or rub on with some substance, as a piece of stone, for the purpose of sharpening – see whetstone.
    • Milton
      The mower whets his scythe.
    • Byron
      Here roams the wolf, the eagle whets his beak.
  2. (transitive) To stimulate or make more keen.
    to whet one's appetite or one's courage
    • Shakespeare
      Since Cassius first did whet me against Caesar, / I have not slept.
    • 2003-10-20, Naomi Wolf, The Porn Myth, New York Magazine
      In the end, porn doesn’t whet men’s appetites—it turns them off the real thing.

Derived terms[edit]



whet (plural whets)

  1. The act of whetting something.
  2. That which whets or sharpens; especially, an appetizer.
    • Spectator
    • sips, drams, and whets