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From Middle English whetten, from Old English hwettan (“to whet, sharpen, incite, encourage”), from Proto-West Germanic *hwattjan, from Proto-Germanic *hwatjaną (“to incite, sharpen”), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷēd- (“sharp”).
- (UK) IPA(key): /ˈwɛt/
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈwɛt/, [ˈwɛ(ʔ)t̚]
- Rhymes: -ɛt
- Homophone: wet
- (transitive) To hone or rub on with some substance, as a piece of stone, for the purpose of sharpening – see whetstone.
- (transitive) To stimulate or make more keen.
- to whet one's appetite or one's courage
- c. 1599, William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act II scene i:
- Since Cassius first did whet me against Caesar, / I have not slept.
- 1925-29, Mahadev Desai (translator), M.K. Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Part I, chapter xv:
- My faith in vegetarianism grew on me from day to day. Salt's book whetted my appetite for dietetic studies. I went in for all books available on vegetarianism and read them.
- 2003 October 9, Naomi Wolf, “The Porn Myth”, in New York Magazine:
- In the end, porn doesn’t whet men’s appetites—it turns them off the real thing.
- (transitive, obsolete) To preen.
hone or rub on with some substance for the purpose of sharpening
stimulate or make more keen
whet (plural whets)
- The act of whetting something.
- That which whets or sharpens; especially, an appetizer.
- 1714 July 30, Joseph Addison, “MONDAY, July 19, 1714 [Julian calendar]”, in The Spectator, number 569; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, […], volume VI, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, OCLC 191120697:
- sips, drams, and whets
- 1769, Elizabeth Raffald, The Experienced English Housekeeper
- To make a nice Whet before Dinner […]