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

The operations are reputed to have been handled by the CIA and by the KGB's Spetsbureau 13 (Spets Byuro 13), colorfully known as the "Department of Wet Affairs" (Otdel mokrykh del).[4][5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Becket, Henry S. A. (1986). The Dictionary of Espionage: Spookspeak into English. Stein & Day.
  2. ^ Maksimov, S. V. (1869). "Музыка или словарь карманников, т. е. столичных воров (Music or a dictionary of pickpockets, i.e. metropolitan thieves)". Сибирь и каторга [Siberia and Hard Labor] (in Russian). СПб.: S. V. Maksimov.
  3. ^ Dubyagin, Yu. (1991). Толковый словарь уголовных жаргонов [Dictionary of Criminal Slang] (in Russian). Moscow: Inter-Omni. ISBN 5-85945-002-8.
  4. ^ Barkdoll, Robert (November 22, 1965). "Russian Terror Agency Described by Defector". Los Angeles Times. p. 16.
  5. ^ Price, Anthony (1972). Colonel Butler's Wolf. Mysterious Press. ISBN 9780445402249.
  6. ^ CIA (1993) [1964], "Soviet Use of Assassination and Kidnapping: A 1964 view of KGB methods", Studies in Intelligence, 19 (3)

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of wet work at Wiktionary