According to Professor Pam Peters, the author of “The Cambridge Guide to English Usage”: “wetted” is used for the past tense when there’s a reference to a deliberate action.

So, I guess it should be “she wetted her hair” and not “she wet her hair.”

Here is what she says in her book:

The choice between wetted and wet for past participle again helps to show whether it’s the product of human intervention, or a more or less natural result:

……..his straight brown hair, freshly wetted and parted in the middle .

The wall had been wet by a broken pipe for many years.

He wetted his lips in a theatrical way.

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    Different dialects treat this differently. I am quite sure she is correct for some speakers of English, but I (American English) always use wet. I only say whetted when it's spelled with an "h" (and means sharpened). Pam Peters is Australian, and is probably talking about British or Commonwealth English. Jan 31, 2019 at 12:21
  • Either one would be correct. In idiomatic US English "wetted" implies being intentionally being made wet.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 27, 2019 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


"She wet her hair" is perfectly grammatically sound for where I live. The only context where I can think the distinction is really going to cause any confusion or lead to anyone even thinking about it is if you're talking about having wet yourself vs having been wetted, although I don't know that the second would ever come up in context. It's probably a regional thing, if that's what a modern book says, but even outside the US I don't think most folks take issue with "she wet her hair" instead of "she wetted her hair".

  • 1
    Yes, she wet her pants and she wetted her pants are two completely different things :-)
    – Jim
    Mar 27, 2019 at 19:20
  • @Jim — You bastard! I was going to say that.
    – David
    Mar 27, 2019 at 20:06

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