• synonyms


[wak-suh n]
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  1. made of or covered, polished, or treated with wax.
  2. resembling or suggesting wax: Illness gave his face a waxen appearance.
  3. weak, manageable, or impressionable: The minds of young children are waxen.

Origin of waxen1

before 1000; Middle English; Old English weaxen; see wax1, -en2


[wak-suh n]
verb Literary.
  1. a past participle of wax2.


  1. Also called beeswax. a solid, yellowish, nonglycerine substance allied to fats and oils, secreted by bees, plastic when warm and melting at about 145°F, variously employed in making candles, models, casts, ointments, etc., and used by bees in constructing their honeycomb.
  2. any of various similar substances, as spermaceti or the secretions of certain insects and plants.Compare vegetable wax, wax insect.
  3. any of a group of substances composed of hydrocarbons, alcohols, fatty acids, and esters that are solid at ordinary temperatures.
  4. cerumen; earwax.
  5. a resinous substance used by shoemakers for rubbing thread.
  6. sealing wax.
  7. a person or object suggesting wax, as in manageability or malleability: I am helpless wax in your hands.
verb (used with object)
  1. to rub, smear, stiffen, polish, etc., with wax: to wax the floor.
  2. to fill the crevices of (ornamental marble) with colored material.
  3. bikini wax.
  4. Informal. to make a phonograph recording of.
  5. Slang. to defeat decisively; drub: We waxed the competition.
  1. pertaining to, made of, or resembling wax: a wax candle; a wax doll.
  1. whole ball of wax, Slang.
    1. the entire or overall plan, concept, action, result, or the like: The first ten minutes of the meeting will determine the whole ball of wax.
    2. everything of a similar or related nature: They sold us skis, boots, bindings, poles—the whole ball of wax.

Origin of wax1

before 900; (noun) Middle English wex, waxe, Old English weax; cognate with Dutch was, German Wachs, Old Norse vax; (v.) Middle English wexen, derivative of the noun
Related formswax·a·ble, adjectivewax·like, adjective


verb (used without object), waxed; waxed or (Literary) wax·en; wax·ing.
  1. to increase in extent, quantity, intensity, power, etc.: Discord waxed at an alarming rate.
  2. (of the moon) to increase in the extent of its illuminated portion before the full moon.Compare wane(def 4).
  3. to grow or become: He waxed angry at the insinuation.

Origin of wax2

before 900; Middle English waxen, Old English weaxan; cognate with German wachsen; akin to waist
Can be confusedwane wax


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. extend, grow, lengthen, enlarge, dilate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for waxen

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • All the waxen face was already dead, the eyes only were still living.

    Doctor Pascal

    Emile Zola

  • The waxen image is at its feet, as a suppliant, and awaiting only death.

    The Phantom World

    Augustin Calmet

  • Tis but fancy, which is to love as the waxen image to the living man.

    Clare Avery

    Emily Sarah Holt

  • It was the yellowish, waxen face of Mrs. Silsbee that had been uncovered.

  • What are the people doing in the dark, with the waxen images and the horrid crucifixes?

British Dictionary definitions for waxen


  1. made of, treated with, or covered with wax
  2. resembling wax in colour or texture


  1. archaic a past participle of wax 2


  1. any of various viscous or solid materials of natural origin: characteristically lustrous, insoluble in water, and having a low softening temperature, they consist largely of esters of fatty acids
  2. any of various similar substances, such as paraffin wax or ozocerite, that have a mineral origin and consist largely of hydrocarbons
  3. short for beeswax, sealing wax
  4. physiol another name for cerumen
  5. a resinous preparation used by shoemakers to rub on thread
  6. bone wax a mixture of wax, oil, and carbolic acid applied to the cut surface of a bone to prevent bleeding
  7. any substance or object that is pliable or easily mouldedhe was wax in the hands of the political bosses
  8. (modifier) made of or resembling waxa wax figure
  9. the act or an instance of removing body hair by coating it with warm wax, applying a strip of fabric, and then removing the fabric sharply, thereby plucking the hairs out by their roots
  1. (tr) to coat, polish, etc, with wax
  2. to remove (body hair) by means of a wax treatment
Derived Formswaxer, nounwaxlike, adjective

Word Origin

Old English weax, related to Old Saxon, Old High German wahs, Old Norse vax


verb (intr)
  1. to become larger, more powerful, etc
  2. (of the moon) to show a gradually increasing portion of illuminated surface, between new moon and full moonCompare wane (def. 1)
  3. archaic to become as specifiedthe time waxed late

Word Origin

Old English weaxan; related to Old Frisian waxa, Old Saxon, Old High German wahsan, Gothic wahsjan


  1. British informal, old-fashioned a fit of rage or temperhe's in a wax today

Word Origin

of obscure origin; perhaps from the phrase to wax angry
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for waxen



"substance made by bees," Old English weax, from Proto-Germanic *wakhsan (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German wahs, Old Norse vax, Dutch was, German Wachs); cognate with Old Church Slavonic vasku, Lithuanian vaškas, Polish wosk, Russian vosk "wax" (but these may be from Germanic). Waxworks "exhibition of wax figures representing famous or notorious persons" first recorded 1796.



"grow bigger or greater," Old English weaxan "to increase, grow" (class VII strong verb; past tense weox, past participle weaxen), from Proto-Germanic *wakhsan (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German wahsan, Old Norse vaxa, Old Frisian waxa, Dutch wassen, German wachsen, Gothic wahsjan "to grow, increase"), from PIE *wegs- (cf. Sanskrit vaksayati "cause to grow," Greek auxein "to increase"), extended form of root *aug- "to increase" (see augment). Strong conjugation archaic after 14c. Related: Waxed; waxing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

waxen in Medicine


  1. 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 most organic solvents.
  2. Cerumen.
  3. A solid plastic or pliable liquid substance, such as paraffin, originating from petroleum and found in rock layers and often used in medicinal preparations.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

waxen in Science


  1. Any of various solid, usually yellow substances that melt or soften easily when heated. They are similar to fats, but are less greasy and more brittle. Naturally occurring animal and plant waxes are esters of saturated fatty acids and alcohols of high molecular weight, including sterols. Waxes are also manufactured synthetically from petroleum, and are used to make polishers, lubricants, coatings, waterproofing, crayons, candles, and many other products.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with waxen


In addition to the idiom beginning with wax

also see:

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.