A Slippery Inquiry: Is Water Wet?

Posted on May 08, 2019


Is water wet? More importantly, is it grammatically correct to say water is wet? The easy answer is yes. Wet things are soaked in or splattered with water, and when we look at it, water is just a big pool of wetness. However, the real answer is not as simple as that.

Is water wet

There is apparently a whole scientific discussion about it that involves terms like cohesive force and adhesive force, but long story short, water is not wet. However, it’s used to make other things wet. The very sensation or experience of being wet involves coming into contact with water, but water itself cannot be made wet because it is the substance used to achieve the condition. This is parallel with fire: one may say fire burns, but one cannot burn fire.


We’re going to avoid going too deep into the science of it. We’re talking grammar here, so we’ll start with the dictionary.


Wet functions as an adjective, a noun, and a verb. As an adjective, it describes something that consists of, contains, is covered with, or soaked with liquid, such as water. The easiest example is a tissue soaked wet with water, or tears, if you’re that kind of person. Wet can also refer to other processes that happen around or involve water, such as wet weather (rainy) and wet extraction of metals.


These literal definitions can also be used as verbs as in to make something wet. For example, one can make a dining table wet by splashing water on it. Another verb function of wet is exemplified by the unfortunate phrase “I accidentally wet myself,” meaning that person just urinated in or on something. It’s usually the underpants.


On a nonliteral sense, wet is also used to describe someone as drunk, as well as overly sentimental. The British also have their own figurative use of the word, referring to someone who is weak and, quite specifically, someone who belongs to the liberal wing of the Conservative Party.


The noun form of wet mostly relates to conditions or situations. One can say they do not like the wet to indicate that standing under the rain or in puddles doesn’t please them. As for using the noun wet to refer to a person, it can be someone who is “an advocate of a policy of permitting the sale of intoxicating liquors.” Then the British definition also has its noun form.


Here are some examples for better understanding:







  1. My foot is wet from the puddle of dog pee that I stepped on.

  2. The air feels wet from all this moisture.

  3. Arin brought out the wet painting to dry on the porch.

  4. Horatio wetted the filter paper before he poured the solvent through it.

  5. Gretchen loved the wet; she lived for rainy days and beach outings.

  6. KC was the self-appointed wet in their group, what with his low self-esteem and tendency to get pushed around.


So going back to our query: is water wet? It depends on the definition. Mostly, it’s a no because one cannot use a liquid to wet another liquid. But if it’s referring to a condition like rain, one can say that the ocean is a kind of wet. In that case, water is wet.


This should answer the question sufficiently and provide even more substance to wet. Who knew it had so many other definitions?


If you’ve got other questions related to grammar and writing, just send them to us and we’ll respond as soon as we can. Until next time!




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