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Wet work

Posted by Masakim on February 28, 2003

In Reply to: Wet work posted by ESC on February 28, 2003

: : : In a recent article in the New York Times this passage occurs: '... the Albanians ... did
: : : wet work for the K.G.B.' Does 'wet work' mean 'dirty work'? If so, why?

: : It means more than dirty work. "Wet work" is spy slang (and allegedly CIA slang) for missions involving killing someone - also known as "sanctioning" someone. I imagine it's called "wet work" because it sometimes gets a bit messy.

: Here's a source:

: Wet Work: Western slang for intelligence operation involving murder or assassination. COVERT TERMINOLOGY

An operation involving the shedding of blood. KGB term.
[Cf. _Mokryye Dela_, the KGB department of wet work --masakim's note]
From _The Dictionary of Espionage: Spookspeak into English_ by Henry S.A. Becket.

wetwork noun
An espionage assignment that calls for murder.
[From _Wetwrk_, a novel by Christopher Buckley]
From _Trash Cash, Fizzbos, and Flatliners: A Dictionary of Today's Words_ by Sid Lerner et al.

wet-job a murder.
But not necessarily by drowning: "If anyone fancied the idea of doing a 'wet-job' on me then the bomb would go off in hours." (Ted Allbeury, _Pay Any Price_, 1983)
Also as _wet operations_: "Max was an expert at what the chekists tactfully described as mokrie dela, 'wet operations'." (Robert Moss, _Carnival of Space_, 1987)
From _A Dictionary of Euphemisms_ by R.W. Holder