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 wax

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 wax

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

Synonyms for wax

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for waxed

Contemporary Examples of waxed

Historical Examples of waxed

  • She was very certain that her eyes had not been darkened as to lids or waxed as to lashes.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • And how it thrived and grew, and waxed in strength and beauty!

  • Her eyes were downcast--looking upon the waxed floor as if in meditation.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • For Uncle Ben was a strong man, and waxed garrulous in his cups.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • The backers of Cherokee waxed jubilant and offered ridiculous odds.

    White Fang

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for waxed


  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 for wax

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 for wax

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 for wax

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 waxed



"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

waxed 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.

waxed 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 waxed


In addition to the idiom beginning with wax

  • wax and wane

also see:

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