Wet markets have been getting undeserved bad press since a Wuhan market was named ground zero for the Covid-19 pandemic. They have been condemned as homes to wild animals and hotbeds of disease. A wet market – as is well understood in Asia – is none of these, but simply a market for the sale of fresh meat, fish, vegetables and fruit. Some markets also traditionally allowed the slaughter of live animals on site, but this was banned in places including Hong Kong and Singapore following the bird flu outbreaks of the 1990s. Such markets are considered “wet” for two reasons: they trade perishable “wet” goods rather than durable “dry” goods such as grains, household products, fabric and so forth (although some wet markets do have stalls selling grains and legumes). In Cantonese, sap fo , literally “wet goods”, refers to fresh producewhile gon fo, or “dry goods”, encompasses everything from tinned goods to dried seafood and Chinese herbs. These markets are also literally wet with water from melting ice used to keep seafood fresh and the regular hosing down of stalls, and possibly with the blood of slaughtered animals, if any. These establishments are a vital everyday source of food, which is reflected in local languages. In the Malay-speaking world, they are called pasar pagi , where pasar means “market”– originating in the Persian bāzār , meaning bazaar or marketplace, and spreading via trade routes, likely reaching Indonesia via the Hindi bazar ). Pagi , meaning “morning”, suggests early opening hours, as opposed to pasar malam (“night market”), which caters for leisurely after-dinner entertainment. In Chinese languages, the Mandarin chuántong shìchang means traditional or regular market, while Cantonese gaai síh means “street market”. Singaporean Mandarin uses the term basha , derived from the Hokkien pasat from the Malay pasar . The English term “wet market” entered the Oxford English Dictionary only recently, in 2016. Its earliest documentation, from Singapore’s broadsheet The Straits Times in 1978, placed “wet” in quotation marks to distinguish traditional markets from newfangled supermarkets. Other examples of usage hail from Malaysia, the Philippines and Hong Kong. While the term is categorised as being Southeast Asian English, wet markets can be found the world over – partly comparable to farmers’ markets – and for the most part are properly regulated with acceptable standards of hygiene. It’s crucial that they not be conflated with (illegal) wildlife markets, the regulation of which is critical for the prevention of future disease outbreaks.