Printable Version
Pronunciation: vet Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To work as a veterinarian. 2. To submit for verification by those familiar with the object or subject in question, to have an expert check it.

Notes: We hear this Good Word more often as a noun, a clipping of the noun veterinarian, but it is being used more and more in the second sense above. This clipping now behaves like a normal English weak verb: vets, vetted, vetting. Note the usual doubling of the consonant before endings beginning with a vowel.

In Play: Today's Good Word usually refers to having plans and ideas checked by an authority no matter who or where: "Have you vetted your plans for the weekend beach party with your parents?" The point is that the input of others might have a beneficial effect: "You might have vetted your idea of putting frogs in all the office toilets with your coworkers before you carried it out."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a clipping of veterinarian, that is, everything after the initial syllable has been clipped off. It first appeared in print in 1891 with the original sense of taking an animal, especially a horse, to a vet to be examined. This expression became so common in the horse-and-buggy days that the meaning expanded to having people checked by a doctor and, from there, to having anything checked by an expert or experts. The noun veterinarian is the English adaptation of Latin veterinarius "veterinarian", a noun based on veterinus "pack animal". This word was originally vehiterinus, with the same root found in vehiculum from vehere "to haul, carry". This is the source of English vehicle. (We are happy that the mysterious 'JBR' vetted this word with us—we think it a very Good Word, indeed.)

Dr. Goodword,

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