from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of various natural, oily or greasy heat-sensitive substances, consisting of hydrocarbons or esters of fatty acids that are insoluble in water but soluble in nonpolar organic solvents.
  • n. Beeswax.
  • n. Cerumen.
  • n. A solid plastic or pliable liquid substance, such as ozocerite or paraffin, originating from petroleum and found in rock layers and used in paper coating, as insulation, in crayons, and often in medicinal preparations.
  • n. A preparation containing wax used for polishing floors and other surfaces.
  • n. A resinous mixture used by shoemakers to rub on thread.
  • n. A phonograph record.
  • n. Something suggestive of wax in being impressionable or readily molded.
  • adj. Made of wax: a wax candle.
  • transitive v. To coat, treat, or polish with wax.
  • transitive v. Informal To make a phonograph record of.
  • idiom on wax In the medium of phonograph recordings.
  • intransitive v. To increase gradually in size, number, strength, or intensity.
  • intransitive v. To show a progressively larger illuminated area, as the moon does in passing from new to full.
  • intransitive v. To grow or become as specified: "could afford ... to wax sentimental over their heritage” ( John Simon).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Beeswax.
  • n. Earwax.
  • n. Any oily, water-resistant substance; normally long-chain hydrocarbons, alcohols or esters.
  • n. Any preparation containing wax, used as a polish.
  • n. A phonograph record.
  • adj. Made of wax.
  • v. To apply wax to (something, such as a shoe, a floor, a car, or an apple), usually to make it shiny.
  • v. To remove hair at the roots from (a part of the body) by coating the skin with a film of wax that is then pulled away sharply.
  • v. To defeat utterly.
  • v. To kill, especially to murder a person.
  • v. To increasingly assume the specified characteristic, become.
  • v. To grow.
  • v. To appear larger each night as a progression from a new moon to a full moon.
  • n. The process of growing.
  • n. An outburst of anger.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A fatty, solid substance, produced by bees, and employed by them in the construction of their comb; -- usually called beeswax. It is first excreted, from a row of pouches along their sides, in the form of scales, which, being masticated and mixed with saliva, become whitened and tenacious. Its natural color is pale or dull yellow.
  • n. Hence, any substance resembling beeswax in consistency or appearance.
  • n. Cerumen, or earwax.
  • n. A waxlike composition used for uniting surfaces, for excluding air, and for other purposes.
  • n. A waxlike composition used by shoemakers for rubbing their thread.
  • n. A substance similar to beeswax, secreted by several species of scale insects, as the Chinese wax. See Wax insect, below.
  • n. A waxlike product secreted by certain plants. See Vegetable wax, under Vegetable.
  • n. A substance, somewhat resembling wax, found in connection with certain deposits of rock salt and coal; -- called also mineral wax, and ozocerite.
  • n. Thick sirup made by boiling down the sap of the sugar maple, and then cooling.
  • n. any of numerous substances or mixtures composed predominantly of the longer-chain saturated hydrocarbons such as the paraffins, which are solid at room teperature, or their alcohol, carboxylic acid, or ester derivatives.
  • intransitive v. To increase in size; to grow bigger; to become larger or fuller; -- opposed to wane.
  • intransitive v. To pass from one state to another; to become; to grow
  • transitive v. To smear or rub with wax; to treat with wax.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To beat; thrash.
  • To grow; increase in size; become larger or greater: as, the moon waxes and wanes.
  • To pass from one state to another; become; grow: as, to wax strong; to wax old.
  • To treat with wax; smear or rub with wax; make waxy: as, to wax a thread; to wax the floor or a piece of furniture.
  • To plaster with clay.
  • n. Black sealing-wax.
  • n. A local name in Texas for sticky clay containing much black-colored humus.
  • n. Growth; increase; prosperity.
  • n. A wood.
  • n. A thick, sticky substance secreted by bees, and used to build their cells; the material of honeycomb; beeswax.
  • n. One of various substances and products resembling beeswax in appearance, consistency, plasticity, and the like, or used for like purposes.
  • n. A thick resinous substance, consisting of pitch, resin, and tallow, used by shoemakers for rubbing their thread.
  • n. A thick syrup produced by boiling down the sap of the sugar-maple tree, cooling on ice, etc.
  • n. Dung of cattle.
  • n. In coal-mining, puddled clay, used for dams and stoppings.
  • n. Chinese wax, or pela. (See also banking-wax, bottle-wax, myrtle-wax, ocuba-wax, sealing-wax.)
  • n. A rage; a passion.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. cover with wax
  • n. any of various substances of either mineral origin or plant or animal origin; they are solid at normal temperatures and insoluble in water
  • v. increase in phase
  • v. go up or advance


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Old English weax.
Middle English waxen, from Old English weaxan.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English wæx, from Proto-Germanic *wahsan, from Proto-Indo-European *wokso-. Cognate with Dutch was, German Wachs, Norwegian voks; and with Lithuanian vaškas, Russian воск

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English waxen, from Old English weaxan ("to wax, grow, be fruitful, increase, become powerful, flourish"), from Proto-Germanic *wahsijanan (“to grow”), from Proto-Indo-European *weks-, *aweks-, *auks- (“to grow, increase”). Cognate with Scots wax ("to grow"), West Frisian waakse ("to grow"), Dutch wassen ("to grow"), German wachsen ("to grow"), Danish and Norwegian vokse ("to grow"), Swedish växa ("to grow"), Icelandic vaxa ("to grow"), Gothic 𐍅𐌰𐌷𐍃𐌾𐌰𐌽 (wahsjan, "to grow"); and with Ancient Greek ἀέξειν, Latin auxilium. It is in its turn cognate with augeo. See eke.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Origin uncertain; probably from phrases like to wax angry, wax wode, and similar (see Etymology 2, above).



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  • Usage/historical note on Francesco Pegolotti.

    October 9, 2017

  • If you catch it before it's fire-fanged, it's probably still quite moist.

    August 17, 2010

  • Hmmmm.

    August 17, 2010

  • The Century Dictionary's twelfth definition of wax is "Dung of cattle," if that helps any.

    August 17, 2010

  • A flat and ugly word: all that grease in so much abruption. Far worse than the tender promise of moist.

    August 16, 2010