verb (used with object), ret·ted, ret·ting.
- to soak in water or expose to moisture, as flax or hemp, to facilitate the removal of the fiber from the woody tissue by partial rotting.
verb rets, retting or retted
- (tr) to moisten or soak (flax, hemp, jute, etc) to promote bacterial action in order to facilitate separation of the fibres from the woody tissue by beating
“to soak stems of fibrous plants (flax, hemp, jute, etc.) to soften them,” mid-15c., probably from Middle Dutch roten (or an unrecorded cognate Old Norse word that is related to Norwegian røyta, Swedish röta, Danish røde); considered to be related to Old English rotian “to rot” (see rot (v.)), but the vowel is difficult.