wet work

noun
variants: or less commonly wetwork

Definition of wet work

1 :work involving water or wet substances
  • All wet work, such as concrete, masonry, plaster, drywall and paint must be complete and dry.
  • —Daniel BooneFloor Covering Installer1 May 2010
  • It is a frequent problem among individuals who perform “wet work” such as homemakers, bartenders, hairdressers, dental workers, and health care workers; repetitive wetting and drying of the hands leads to dryness and redness.
  • —Deborah A. Kedrowski and Erin M. WarshawDermatology Nursing1 Feb. 2008
2 :work involving murder or assassination used euphemistically
  • … the intelligence service became infamous as a subcontractor for the K.G.B. and earned a grim reputation for its particular expertise in “wet work,” the assassination of enemies.
  • —Andrew HigginsNew York Times25 Dec. 2013
  • … if you do wet work for the CIA … you probably don't want to drive to the job site in this huge, thinly veiled military vehicle.
  • —Al HaasPhiladelphia Inquirer19 June 1998

There's more!

Love words? You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!
Already a subscriber? Log in.

First Known Use of wet work

1731


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up wet work? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

a strongly worded attack

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!

  • young-plant-shoots
  • Which of the following is a new sense of the word bunny?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!