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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 termsEdit



whet (plural whets)

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