The Grammarphobia Blog

Let’s “vet” this

Q: I’ve been hearing the word “vet” used a lot lately, especially in the media. Is it a Briticism? Is it a new coinage?

A: The word “vet” is often used as a verb meaning to “check out” or “evaluate.” Believe it or not, this usage has been with us for at least a century.

The noun “vet,” short for “veterinarian,” dates back to 1862. By 1891, the word was also being used as a verb meaning “to submit to a veterinarian’s care.” In other words, to “vet” your dog was to take it to a vet for a checkup. The first recorded use of the verb “vet” to mean “evaluate” in a general sense was in 1904.