Wetwork is a euphemism for murder or assassination, alluding to spilling blood. The expression "wet work," as well as the similar "wet job," "wet affair," or "wet operation," are all calques of the euphemism used by the KGB for such activities, mokroye delo (wet dealings). These operations are reputed to have been handled at the KGB by Spetsbureau 13, colorfully known as the "Department of wet affairs" (Otdel mokrykh del).
The Russian expression "wet job" (мокрое дело) can be traced to at least the 19th century from Russian criminal slang (fenya, muzyka) and originally meant robbery that involved murder, i.e., spilling blood.
- Henry S. A. Becket (1986). The Dictionary of Espionage: Spookspeak into English. Stein & Day.
- Robert Barkdoll (November 22, 1965). "Russian Terror Agency Described by Defector". Los Angeles Times. p. 16.
- Anthony Price (1972). Colonel Butler's Wolf. Mysterious Press. ISBN 9780445402249.
- Максимов С. В. (1871 сост. в 1842, доп. Максимовым С. В. в 1869). "Музыка или словарь карманников, т. е. столичных воров". Сибирь и каторга [Siberia and Hard Labor] (in Russian). СПб.: Максимов С. В. [публ.]
- Дюбягин Ю. (1991). Толковый словарь уголовных жаргонов [Dictionary of Criminal Slang] (in Russian). Moscow: Inter-Omni. ISBN 5-85945-002-8.