There’s some confusion over whether to use wet or whet when it comes to one’s appetite, which isn’t surprising since they sound alike.
Does a photo like the one above wet or whet your appetite?
If you’re like me, you start looking forward to that big Thanksgiving dinner whenever fall rolls in.
But people often get thrown when they have to write a common expression involving hunger that they normally encounter only by spoken word.
Wet and whet are homophones. They sound alike though they’re spelled differently and have different meanings.
Most people use wet as an adjective to mean soaked or damp with a liquid. As a verb, it can also mean to make soaked or damp with a liquid. Wet also claims a less-pleasant meaning as a verb: to urinate, particularly on something or someone.
Whet, as a verb, means to sharpen or intensify. Whet came into English by way of the Old English word hwettan, which meant “to sharpen” or “to incite or encourage.” The Online Etymology Dictionary, which explains the origin of words, says it came from the Proto-Germanic word hwatjan and also the Old Norse hvetja. Other words also contributed to its history.
That relates to the verb version, which means “to sharpen.” But we mean the alternate definition when we refer to appetite.
Whet, in that case, means to intensify or make more acute.
Something that makes your appetite stronger whets it.
The photo above may whet your appetite if you enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.
It may also remind you to think about your diet to fight off those holiday calories! After all, we wouldn’t want to start off 2020 heavier than we were in 2019, would we?