wet job

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Apr 22 15:30:26 UTC 2010

At 10:58 AM -0400 4/22/10, Charles Doyle wrote:
>A not-infrequent reader of spy novels and crime novels, I did not
>recorgize the term "wet job," but I am quite familiar with the
>variant "wet work." It may be a claque:

I like "claque", for a clique-specific calque.


>1962  Vera Aleksandrova, "Youth and Life in Soviet Literature,"
>_Studies on the Soviet Union_ 1 [mismarked "II"], no. 3: 159:  ". .
>. [H]e emerges an experienced gangster who finally takes to what is
>known in Soviet slang as 'wet work,' a term for murder."
>Perhaps from unconsciously analyzing the image, I have always
>imagined that "wet work" refers specifically to the use of a
>knife--as distinct from garroting, poisoning, shooting, and other
>such less bloody ministrations.
>---- Original message ----
>>Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2010 10:56:10 -0400
>>From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> (on behalf
>>of Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>)
>>Subject: Re: wet job
>>On Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 10:52:57AM -0400, Dan Goncharoff wrote:
>>>  Have you checked "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold" itself?
>>I have. There's no relevant example of _wet_ therein.
>>Jesse Sheidlower
>>>   I would also check the work of James Mitchell. He wrote a British TV
>>>  series called Callan in the early 70s. The last show made was a reunion
>>>  show in 1981 called "Wet Job".
>>>  DanG
>>>  On 4/21/2010 3:05 AM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>>>>  The earliest relevant hit I got for "wet job" is from 1980.
>>>>>  Tempo
>>>>>  Pay-Per-View - Chicago Tribune - ProQuest Archiver - Nov 10, 1980
>>>>>  I feel like George Smiley in 'The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.' At
>>>>>  one point when someone asks Smiley if he ll go into East. Germany and
>>>>>  do a wet job ...
>>>>>  Tempo
>>>>>  A CIA agent quits and tells--and now pays and pays
>>>>>  Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) - Chicago, Ill.
>>>>>  Author: Rogers Worthington
>>>>>  Date: Nov 10, 1980
>>>>>  Start Page: A1
>>>>>  Pages: 2
>>>>>  Section: 2
>>>>  If I am not mistaken, "Tempo" is the culture section of the Trib, so the
>>>>  title is actually the second line, "A CIA agent quits and tells--and now
>>>>  pays and pays".
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