wet work

noun

variants or less commonly wetwork
1
: work involving water or wet substances
All wet work, such as concrete, masonry, plaster, drywall and paint must be complete and dry.Daniel Boone, Floor Covering Installer, 1 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. Warshaw, Dermatology Nursing, 1 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 Higgins, New York Times, 25 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 Haas, Philadelphia Inquirer, 19 June 1998

Word History

First Known Use

1731, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of wet work was in 1731

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Cite this Entry

“Wet work.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wet%20work. Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

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