Wet Blanket – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Do you know someone who generally kills a buzz or takes all of the excitement out of any activity that anyone enjoys? The term ‘wet blanket’ is one of the most common terms that can be used to describe someone like this. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this term.

Meaning

The term ‘wet blanket’ is used to indicate someone who is killing everyone else’s fun.

If someone is ‘a wet blanket’ then they are implied to be acting in contradiction to something that everyone else was in agreement with.

The expression denotes that someone literally dampens the excitement or fun, much like a literal wet blanket thrown on a fire would immediately eliminate the fire.

The term ‘wet blanket’ is most common when it is used as an insult. Sometimes the term is said to attempt to convince someone to go along with something with the implication that they are ‘a wet blanket’ if they don’t agree.

The term ‘wet blanket’ is somewhat related to the phenomenon of peer pressure whereby a single person who does not agree with the rest of the group can be pointed out as ‘the wet blanket’ and the one who “is no fun” to everyone else.

Sometimes the term ‘wet blankets’ can be used when the term references more than one person or a group instead.

The term can be said about someone (“[they are] a wet blanket”), but the term can also be said in the context of a single person (“[you are] a wet blanket”).

Someone can deny the same statement by saying that they are not ‘a wet blanket’. Someone can also be told that they should “not be” a wet blanket.

Example Usage

“When they didn’t want to go to the party on Saturday, I told them all they’re just a bunch of wet blankets and went to the party without them anyway.”
“I don’t care if you call me a wet blanket over all of this, but I prefer to have pineapple on the pizza and I’m just going to go ahead and order for everyone at the table.”

“You’re being a wet blanket. Why can’t we put a cherry bomb in the toilet and then light it?”

“If your parents don’t want to let you stay out until late at night, then your dad must be a real wet blanket and your mom is probably just a bit of a pushover.”

Origin

The earliest use of the term ‘[like a] wet blanket’ is agreed to be from the year 1830 in the novel “The Settlers in the Woods” by John Galt.

The origin of the term is from the time when ‘wet blankets’ were used to extinguish a fire, which could be something that “kills a party” if someone were to throw a literal wet blanket on the fire before the rest of the party was finished.

The person who throws the ‘wet blanket’ on the fire too soon, thus kills the fire (and the “fun”) for everyone else at the event.

After its use in the novel 1800s novel, the term would soon become more popular elsewhere with a sudden spike in the term’s use on social media in the late 2020s thanks to websites like TikTok.

Phrases Similar to Wet Blanket

  • Buzzkill

Phrases Opposite to Wet Blanket

  • Socialite

What is the Correct Saying?

  • [You are] a wet blanket
  • [Don’t be] a wet blanket

Ways People May Say Wet Blanket Incorrectly

There are ways in which the term ‘wet blanket’ can be used in the wrong ways, usually if the term, its meaning or its context is being misunderstood by either party.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Wet Blanket

The correct way to use the expression ‘wet blanket’ is as a reference to someone who is considered a buzzkill by someone else.

Someone can say “[you are] a wet blanket”, but the term can also be applied to a group of people.

Someone can use the term as denial, and say that they are not a wet blanket, too.

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