Main definitions of wax in English

: wax1wax2wax3

wax1

noun

mass noun
  • 1A sticky yellowish mouldable substance secreted by honeybees as the material of a honeycomb; beeswax.

    • ‘In the wild the long white caterpillars are often considered pests by beekeepers, because they feed on the hives' wax and honey.’
    • ‘The nectar is greatly concentrated and stored in wax cells, thousands of which form the honeycomb.’
    • ‘Propolis is made by bees from a sticky resin that seeps from the buds and bark of trees, chiefly conifers, blended with wax flakes secreted from special glands in their abdomens.’
    • ‘Honeybees raise their larvae and pupae in individual cells on wax combs.’
    • ‘Stir gently until the honey is completely combined, being careful not to overmix or the wax could emulsify into the sauce.’
    • ‘The jars are all capped with pieces of honeycomb, wax and propolis.’
    • ‘However, even in species that do use some natural crevice, important nest structures may be built by groups of workers, as in wax combs in the honey bee.’
    • ‘Darwin showed by an exemplary mathematical argument that the structure of the comb was precisely that which would minimize the amount of wax used by the swarm.’
    • ‘In the case of the honeycombs, the worker bees secrete small flakes of wax and probably surround themselves with the flakes to make the cylinders.’
    • ‘Once the honey is gooey enough, the bees seal off the cell of the honeycomb with a plug of wax.’
    • ‘Honey bees occasionally invade homes and establish a colony, building combs of wax containing honey and pollen, and brood in wall spaces.’
    1. 1.1 A white translucent material obtained by bleaching and purifying beeswax and used for such purposes as making candles, modelling, and as a basis of polishes.
      • ‘It was just a shame that the high price of candle wax forced her to rely mainly on oil lamps.’
      • ‘Modeling wax is great fun as children use the warmth of their hands to shape pieces of wax into animals, figures or whatever their imaginations conjure.’
      • ‘Ask whether the model needs sealing with wax or varnish, or is pre-finished.’
      • ‘There needs to be enough wax on the paper to fight back the paint.’
      • ‘Raw pigments and heated wax create translucent textures and surfaces.’
      • ‘Common finishes include wax, varnish, and oil- or water-based polyurethane.’
      • ‘If you have been using a paste furniture wax like beeswax and you see ripples, you have applied too much.’
      • ‘The raindrops ran like melted wax on his white cheeks.’
      • ‘White wax finds use in cosmetics purely because it presents a better appearance.’
      • ‘If the finish is waxed, do not use oiled or treated cloths, as they may make the wax sticky.’
      • ‘The jug had been sealed with a large disc of cork, onto which about half an inch of translucent wax had been poured as an airtight seal.’
      • ‘The tears were the silent burning kind that slide down your cheeks like hot wax down a candle.’
      • ‘Who first thought of dipping a reed or some other substance into wax or tallow?’
    2. 1.2 Any waxy substance, especially a lipid or hydrocarbon.
      • ‘Successful operation of any lava lamp depends on this relationship between the density of water and wax.’
      • ‘In the attendant chaos of too many people in one room, someone dropped hot wax from a burning candle on her bare hand.’
      • ‘The wax that the Stanford scientists chose isn't exactly dinner-table candle wax, but it's pretty close.’
      • ‘Jillian and Graham sat on either side of a silver-plated candelabrum, its twin red candles dripping wax onto the paper tablecloth, empty coffee cups in front of them.’
      • ‘Modern lubricants are either petroleum or synthetic chemicals, sometimes with a bit of wax thrown in.’
      • ‘Along the streets lamps were covered in flowers, icons and hand-written messages, stuck up with coloured candle wax.’
      • ‘You may protect the finish with a liquid furniture wax or cream polish that gives the desired gloss.’
      • ‘It's also a good idea to wax your wood floor once a year with a good solvent-based liquid or paste wax.’
      • ‘At York, the timbers were immersed for two years in tanks of aqueous polyethylene glycol, a water-soluble wax used to replace the water in the wood.’
      • ‘Once again, wipe the surface clean and if you wish you can apply a coat of paste wax or liquid polish.’
      • ‘The chapel stank of expensive perfume, incense, and candle wax.’
      • ‘Those glossy red apples from California may look wonderful on our supermarket shelves but they do so because they're coated with a wax made from pig fat and I simply don't fancy them.’
      • ‘Candle wax is resistant to water and any water-soluble cleaner.’
      • ‘Desirée stifled a laugh as she swept the candles and bits of wax into a dustpan.’
      • ‘Most candles contain paraffin, a petroleum-based wax that produces black soot when burned.’
      • ‘By tomorrow morning the cleaners will have erased it with bleach, floor wax and silicone polish.’
      • ‘When mixed with oil or wax, high explosives become like clay.’
      • ‘Cigarette burns are part of the inevitable aftermath of most parties, as is spilt candle wax.’
      • ‘Then of course, there was the task of cleaning up all of the candle wax and wine-soaked altar cloth.’
      • ‘He experimented by exposing paraffin wax to crushed Salvia leaves and found the solid wax readily adsorbed the volatile terpenes from the air.’
      • ‘The fire was believed to have been caused by candle wax dripping on to paper.’
      • ‘One way of removing built-up floor wax manually, is to mix detergent and ammonia with water and apply to the floor with a mop or sponge.’
      • ‘The room was ablaze with white wax candles, and the walls were slats of wood, smooth and splinterless mahogany brown in color.’
      • ‘The shop has a range of delicate snowmen, deer, bears, angels and various Christmas specials made of wax and resin.’
    3. 1.3 Earwax.
      • ‘If you continue to get a build-up of wax in your ears then you may find that using ear drops regularly helps the wax drain out.’
      • ‘Wax can usually be easily removed.’
      • ‘Each of us naturally secretes varying amounts of wax into the ear canal.’
  • 2informal Used in reference to records.

    ‘he didn't get on wax until 1959’
    • ‘He seems to be spending more time on screen than on wax.’
    • ‘Joining them is someone who is much better live then he is on wax.’
    • ‘The reason was that they didn't want to hear the band on wax; they just wanted to see them perform.’
    • ‘He'll be sitting in here and there with the band when his services aren't needed on wax.’
    • ‘So I definitely saw it before it got on wax, and I've seen it change so much.’
    • ‘So what would make three of the most influential artists in New York decide to do that on wax?’
    • ‘It's all music you know; he thinks he's the best; I think I'm the best, and we battle it out on wax, that's all.’
    • ‘Hitting more bum notes than an inexperienced boy band isn't easy, but recording it and committing it to wax is another thing.’
    • ‘I feel like I can chart my last ten years via your last ten on wax.’

verb

[with object]
  • 1Cover or treat (something) with wax or a similar substance, typically to polish or protect it.

    ‘I washed and waxed the floor’
    • ‘He said he earned $6 an hour washing and waxing floors using chemicals that caused nosebleeds, sore eyes and skin irritations.’
    • ‘The next day I decided that I would actually wash and wax it myself as it gives a better shine. So I'm out on the drive, polishing my car.’
    • ‘If you shine it, wax it, wash it, admire it, take photographs of it and never use it, what's the point?’
    • ‘We always had time to play with him, go to the shore, build planes, wash and wax the car, do math.’
    • ‘I help Grandad wash and wax the truck, and he puts on his best suit while Mom and Grandma figure out the exact wording of the message he's to take to Ben Dawson.’
    • ‘I moaned, I landed butt first on the freshly waxed floor of the corridor, in extreme pain.’
    • ‘He tries to calm his dad and take him upstairs to bed, but Willy rambles on about how Linda shouldn't have waxed the floor because it might hurt her back.’
    • ‘No one can resist taking photos of the faintly ridiculous men with their beards and waxed moustaches and their womenfolk in quaint dresses.’
    • ‘The only thing they can do is to wax the kitchen floor.’
    • ‘He even regularly waxes the bottom of the car to prevent rusting.’
    • ‘Those employees with vehicle duties will be expected to completely wash and wax the vehicles they are assigned to once a week.’
    • ‘Its surface had to be cleaned and waxed once a week.’
    • ‘If the choice is between taking a brisk walk and waxing the kitchen floor, choose the walk.’
    • ‘I would spend a whole day cleaning, washing and waxing that car.’
    • ‘Wages for most of the janitors averaged $5.50 an hour (slightly higher for those who waxed floors and cleaned windows).’
    • ‘That afternoon we polished and shined, swept and dusted, washed and waxed every nook and cranny of the little house while Madam Cuffy cooked the banquet.’
    • ‘She mopped and waxed the floors, cleaned the bathroom and kitchen, dusted the furniture and did the ironing.’
    • ‘Some men might liken this to washing and waxing their car.’
    • ‘If a brass or copper lamp does not have a special no-tarnish finish, you can polish it or wax it after you wash and dry it.’
    • ‘It was warm that day, and she had just finished her laundry and even thought about waxing the floor.’
    • ‘You may wish to wax your linoleum or vinyl floor after a thorough wash, but there's no point in doing it too often.’
    1. 1.1 Remove unwanted hair from (a part of the body) by applying wax and then peeling off the wax and hairs together.
      ‘she waxed her legs when necessary’
      • ‘For years he's been saying that boys are sick of being bossed about by liberated mothers, and of being brainwashed into becoming touchy-feely drips who grow up to wear earrings, go shopping and get their chest hair waxed.’
      • ‘It took a lot of effort to keep his body hair manageable - waxing his chest took almost an hour, and using the number two clippers on his arms and legs was a constant annoyance.’
      • ‘Some might like the concept of waxing their armpits.’
      • ‘That night, even though she doesn't have waxed eyebrows or manicured nails or a trendy haircut, I take my wife out for dinner.’
      • ‘From dressing for a beach wedding to waxing your body hair and tucking in shirts properly, we've got your fashion fix.’
      • ‘Although it's safe to say that body waxes are generally more popular among gay men than heterosexual males, waxing your body hair has nothing to do with your sexuality.’
      • ‘Robert has already had his arms and legs waxed to remove unwanted hair.’
      • ‘I exercise, I have good hygiene, I try to wear what flatters me, I even went so far as to get my legs waxed and my hair done.’
      • ‘Tim recalls being afraid the first time he had his eyebrows waxed seven years ago, and Harry admits to similar fears.’
      • ‘I would certainly not be waxing any body hair of mine.’
  • 2informal Make a recording of.

    ‘he waxed a series of tracks that emphasized his lead guitar work’
    ‘the latest waxing by the Grams’
    • ‘Elvis Presley was discovered after walking into a Memphis recording studio to wax a $2 gift for his mother.’

Origin

Old English wæx, weax, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch was and German Wachs. The verb dates from late Middle English.

Pronunciation

wax

/waks/

Main definitions of wax in English

: wax1wax2wax3

wax2

verb

[no object]
  • 1(of the moon between new and full) have a progressively larger part of its visible surface illuminated, increasing its apparent size.

    • ‘The moon waxed unhurriedly across the starry cloudless skies, sharing what little light it had borrowed from the sun with the earth for the duration of the night.’
    • ‘People who grew up there are strongly attached to the tribal system, which to them seems as natural and morally right as the sun rising in the east and the moon waxing and waning.’
    • ‘The moon rode the sky, waxing toward fullness, as clouds swirled in an accompanying dance.’
    • ‘The moon was waxing, and I was sure it would be full the next night.’
    • ‘We often spent the late nights talking in my own private gardens, and sometimes we were content to lie on our backs on the grass to watch the stars or the moon as she waxed or waned.’
    • ‘I feel oddly discombobulated that I don't know whether the moon is waxing or waning.’
    • ‘The moon waxed full, looming huge upon the speckled expanse.’
    • ‘The Moon is waxing and is in completely the wrong part of the sky (the northern sky)!’
    • ‘An immense moon hovers on clear nights, waxing during my stay.’
    • ‘I felt the power which comes with the falling night and the rising moon, whether it be waxing or waning.’
    approach full moon, get bigger, increase in size, enlarge
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1literary Become larger or stronger.
      ‘his anger waxed’
      • ‘Certainly that was his formulation in the early years, that as the child's objectivity waxed, so to speak, so his imagination and fantasy life would be inclined to wane.’
      • ‘And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom.’
      • ‘As the junta faltered, Yeltsin waxed stronger and by the end of the year the Communist Party had been banned and the Soviet Union condemned to history - all because one man had grasped the moment.’
      • ‘That feeling waxed strongest in Sydney, where a coalition of small interests, organised by Henry Parkes and pursuing populist ends, developed before 1850.’
      • ‘After a tight first set hewaxed in confidence and played better and better.’
      increase, grow, develop, rise, expand, swell, enlarge, magnify, extend, escalate, deepen, intensify, widen, broaden, spread, mushroom, snowball
      View synonyms
  • 2with complement Begin to speak or write about something in the specified manner.

    ‘they waxed lyrical about the old days’
    • ‘I didn't want to be one of those gushing fans that waxes poetic and overuses the words ‘cool’ and ‘awesome.’’
    • ‘He waxed poetic as he described the trips he had taken in search of exotic worlds, all on guided tours.’
    • ‘I was waxing nostalgic to a friend about the old British Library Reading Room.’
    • ‘She was just about to start waxing poetic about it, when she was startled by Morgan appearing at her front door.’
    • ‘Remarkably she agreed, waxing poetic about the possibilities such an article would elicit.’
    • ‘He began to wax eloquent on what was wrong with it.’
    • ‘Provincial and federal politicians wax poetic about the issue, but never seem to put their taxation or legislative powers where their mouths are.’
    • ‘Clausewitz waxes almost poetic on the subject of friction, showering the reader with metaphors for the reality of war, something the reader may well never have experienced.’
    • ‘He waxes nostalgic about his life, his family, and what has happened to them over the past few months.’
    • ‘She waxes amusing about the trials of boys wanting to play like girls and even brings along her hubby, Ben.’
    • ‘Neither man waxes poetic about getting close to God or the purity of creation.’
    • ‘One writer in the early eighteenth century waxed poetic about how these poor good women labored such long hours to support their families - but he was responding to an attack on them.’
    • ‘We were talking the other night about family, and he began to wax poetic about his dearly departed grandmother.’
    • ‘He waxed increasingly lyrical with statements such as: ‘We are not just creating a sports park, we are creating a community.’’
    • ‘Here he waxes all poetic about eagles and relaxing in the sun.’
    • ‘The vice commander had one of the new radio-phones and was waxing poetic about the possibilities of having his phone and radio in a single device.’
    • ‘I shared a cab with strangers bound for the Quarter and listened to my fellow passengers wax nostalgically about past trips to New Orleans.’
    • ‘There are also way too many irrelevant talking heads waxing poetic about the meaning of the movie.’
    • ‘Despite constant pressure from New York City media and fans longing for an NBA championship after a 30-year drought, Thomas waxes positive on his team and his position.’
    • ‘So, everyone's waxing nostalgic in some way or another, from designers and critics to the audience.’
    • ‘Frankly, I am a little surprised to see him waxing nostalgic about any decision by John French - but there you go.’
    become, grow, get, come to be, turn
    become enthusiastic, enthuse, rave, gush, get carried away
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • wax and wane

    • Undergo alternate increases and decreases.

      ‘green sentiment has waxed and waned’
      • ‘Over time, levels of criminal behavior have waxed and waned.’
      • ‘But Murphy points out that the influence of religion and the churches has waxed and waned in the past; we cannot read the future from current trends.’
      • ‘The organisation has seen its fortunes wax and wane over the past 40 years, reaching the height of its popularity in the 1980s during the Greenham Common cruise missile protests.’
      • ‘The pain had waxed and waned during the intervening months, and he had been to several other health clinicians.’
      • ‘From 1575 to the start of the eighteenth century, mining waxed and waned throughout the Andes.’
      • ‘I find that my inspiration tends to wane and wax over periods of time, and with it, my writing skill.’
      • ‘Alternative malt beverages have been around for decades, their popularity waxing and waning among young adults.’
      • ‘Its popularity has waxed and waned through the years.’
      • ‘Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia wax and wane, treatment (as with that of other chronic diseases) is an ongoing process rather than management of a single episode.’
      • ‘As a result, the use of corticosteroids in head injury has waxed and waned over time, with extensive variations in practice.’

Origin

Old English weaxan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wassen and German wachsen, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek auxanein and Latin augere ‘to increase’.

Pronunciation

wax

/waks/

Main definitions of wax in English

: wax1wax2wax3

wax3

noun

British
dated, informal
  • usually in singular A fit of anger.

    ‘she is in a wax about the delay to the wedding’

Origin

Mid 19th century: origin uncertain; perhaps from phrases such as wax angry.

Pronunciation

wax

/waks/