Wetwork (Russian: мокрое дело, tr. mokroye delo)[1] is a euphemism for murder or assassination, alluding to spilling blood. The expression and the similar wet job, wet affair, or wet operation—all calques of Russian terms for such activities—can be traced to criminal slang from at least the 19th century[2][3] and originally meant robbery that involved murder, i.e., spilling blood.

These operations are reputed to have been handled by the CIA, and also by the KGB's Spetsbureau 13, colorfully known as the "Department of Wet Affairs" (Otdel mokrykh del).[4][5]

See also


  1. Henry S. A. Becket (1986). The Dictionary of Espionage: Spookspeak into English. Stein & Day.
  2. Максимов С. В. (1869). "Музыка или словарь карманников, т. е. столичных воров". Сибирь и каторга [Siberia and Hard Labor] (in Russian). СПб.: Максимов С. В. [публ.]
  3. Дюбягин Ю. (1991). Толковый словарь уголовных жаргонов [Dictionary of Criminal Slang] (in Russian). Moscow: Inter-Omni. ISBN 5-85945-002-8.
  4. Robert Barkdoll (November 22, 1965). "Russian Terror Agency Described by Defector". Los Angeles Times. p. 16.
  5. Anthony Price (1972). Colonel Butler's Wolf. Mysterious Press. ISBN 9780445402249.
  • The dictionary definition of wet work at Wiktionary
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