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Origins of the verb "to vet"
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2008/09/04
9:07am
San Diego, California
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Vetting Vet The origins of vet, verb tr. Where does the expression to vet come from? It's a figurative contraction of veterinarian. The fancy word for animal doctor originated in the mid-17th century. The colloquial abbreviation dates to the 1860s; the verb form of the word, meaning "to treat an animal," came a few decades later—according to the Oxford English Dictionary the earliest known usage is 1891—and was applied primarily in a horse-racing context. ("He vetted the stallion before the race," "you should vet that horse before he races," etc.) By the early 1900s, vet had begun to be used as a synonym for evaluate, especially in the context of searching for flaws.

2008/09/12
7:04am
Emmett Redd
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In practice, the patient cannot tell a vet what its symptoms are. Similarly, when vetting a politician, one is trying to find out information that the 'patient' might not voluntarily reveal. In this respect, it is a very indepth evaluation/examination.

Emmett Redd

2008/09/12
8:49am
San Diego, CA
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Emmett, I've talked about this word many times, but never thought about that aspect of it. Thanks.

2011/06/28
8:10am
brandonsargent
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i always thought, like many others, that vetting was related to veteran. glad to finally know the truth, but i was also sure that the discussion would lead to the origin of the saying "don't look a gift horse in the mouth." i'm sure many people believe that it's a reference to the trojan horse, as i used to, but it actually refers again to horses and vets. the saying refers to when someone might purchase a horse, they would have a vet check the animal out (or have it "vetted"), and of course one of the first things the vet would do is have a look in the horse's mouth for signs of disease or other health problems. so if you're given a free horse, which would generally be very valuable, you wouldn't want to go looking for problems to detract from the gift itself or cause insult to the giver.

2011/06/28
10:09am
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The big reason to look a horse in the mouth is to determine its age. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth means to not determine its age and, therefore, evaluate the quality of the gift--a very ungracious thing to do.

Emmett

2011/08/06
7:29pm
Ultimate Pedant
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The word VETERINARIAN is an American word. In English the word for animal doctor is VETERINARY SURGEON.
In England doctors are called doctors or dr. but surgeons (orthopaedic, thoracic etc.) are called Mister, probably
to indicate that they were a cut above run of the mill doctors.
That is the reason Veterinarians are called Dr. in the USA and Veterinary Surgeons are called Mr. in the UK. even though they have
the same degrees and qualifications.
It is a centuries old practise to have a veterinary professional examine a horse before purchase.

John

2011/08/13
7:07pm
johng423
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A side-trail from the original subject, but responding to "Ultimate Pedant":
I don't know if "veterinarian" and "veterinary surgeon" would necessarily have equivalent meanings in the USA, based on my experience: When my dog needed surgery, the "veterinarian," Dr. Lee, referred me to Dr. Jones, another "veterinarian" who also performed surgeries. I believe they both graduated from the same veterinary science program at the same school so I don't know if their qualifications differ at all, although they may have different areas of specialization.

2011/08/27
8:36pm
CheddarMelt
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Ultimate Pedant said:

In England doctors are called doctors or dr. but surgeons (orthopaedic, thoracic etc.) are called Mister, probably
to indicate that they were a cut above run of the mill doctors.

John


I call bull. More likely it has to do with whether they actually doctor.

Doctor (n),
c.1300, "Church father," from O.Fr. doctour, from M.L. doctor "religious teacher, adviser, scholar," in classical L. "teacher," agent noun from docere "to show, teach, cause to know," --from the Online Etymology Dictionary.

IOW, If you don't TEACH, you ain't a REAL DOCTOR. You're just a physician.

2012/03/03
5:32pm
Gnarly One
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Vetting Vet The origins of vet, verb tr. Where does the expression to vet come from? It's a figurative contraction of veterinarian. The fancy word for animal doctor originated in the mid-17th century. The colloquial abbreviation dates to the 1860s; the verb form of the word, meaning "to treat an animal," came a few decades later—according to the Oxford English Dictionary the earliest known usage is 1891—and was applied primarily in a horse-racing context. ("He vetted the stallion before the race," "you should vet that horse before he races," etc.) By the early 1900s, vet had begun to be used as a synonym for evaluate, especially in the context of searching for flaws.

I believe the term 'vetting' has been in use much longer than the 40 or 50 years stated on the program. The term 'vetting' was in common use by the British going back to at least the 1920's and earlier. A prospective captain for the Royal Navy was routinely and formally 'vetted' before receiving his commission for example. I remember encountering the unfamiliar term (to me) reading Royal Navy war stories as a child in the 1940's.

In fact, the UK even has a special 'Defence Vetting Agency' to this day, and there is a British company which specializes in getting individuals vetted for government work, called – believe it or not – 'The Vetting Company'!

Wikipedia gives the earliest usage for the term as 1891, but I suspect the term could have been in use even much earlier than that and wonder if it is even connected with the word 'veterinarian' at all.

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