What does the idiom "wet blanket" mean?

Are you using the idiom wet blanket but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the wet blanket idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "wet blanket"


The idiom "wet blanket" is a way of describing a person who dampens or puts a stop to activities, conversations, and any other for of fun or enthusiasm. This idiom is also used to describe someone who is not open to new ideas or new ways of doing things, and rejects that which is unfamiliar or different. In other words, a "wet blanket" is a real party-pooper or someone who douses the flame of positive energy, enthusiasm, and engagement.


The phrase "wet blanket" originated in early nineteenth century theatre, derived from a practice in which blankets were actually held over the footlights to muffle the sound of an actor's voice and create an effect of smothering the fire. This concept of smothering or putting out was what gave rise to the phrase in the form we understand it today.


The idiom "wet blanket" is most often used in a figurative sense, to describe someone who is a killjoy or having a negative effect. It is especially useful in situations where someone needs to be labeled more accurately than they can be with just one word, such as "downer" or "ruiner". This idiom is also commonly used to express disappointment or frustration with a person who is not being cooperative or helpful.

Example Sentences

  • I was really excited to try something new, but my friends were acting like such wet blankets!
  • Don't invite Mike to the party - he's just gonna act like a wet blanket and ruin it for everyone.
  • The boss has been such a wet blanket - no one's been able to get anything done since he came in.
  • Stop being such a wet blanket - you need to loosen up and have some fun!

The meanings of the words in the "wet blanket" idiom

The Global Spread of English Idioms

As English has become a global language, its idioms have spread far beyond the borders of the UK and USA. For instance, the idiom "beat around the bush" has equivalents in many other languages, such as "tourner autour du pot" in French and "dar vueltas al asunto" in Spanish. Meanwhile, other idioms have been adapted for local contexts, such as the Russian idiom "?? ???? ???????" (ne svoya rubashka), which translates to "not one's own shirt," meaning to be in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation.


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