phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Wet work

Posted by ESC on March 02, 2003

In Reply to: Wet work posted by masakim 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

Wet would refer to blood and other bodily fluids. Murder is a messy business.