wax1 / waks/ • n. a sticky yellowish moldable substance secreted by honeybees as the material of honeycomb; beeswax. ∎ a white translucent material obtained by bleaching and purifying this substance and used for such purposes as making candles, modeling, and as a basis of polishes. ∎ a similar viscous substance, typically a lipid or hydrocarbon. ∎ earwax. ∎ inf. used in reference to phonograph records: he didn't get on wax until 1959. • v. [tr.] 1. cover or treat (something) with wax or a similar substance, typically to polish or protect it: I washed and waxed the floor. ∎ remove unwanted hair from (a part of the body) by applying wax and then peeling off the wax and hairs together. 2. inf. make a recording of: he waxed a series of tracks that emphasized his lead guitar work. DERIVATIVES: wax·er n. wax2 • v. [intr.] (of the moon between new and full) have a progressively larger part of its visible surface illuminated, increasing its apparent size. ∎ poetic/lit. become larger or stronger: his anger waxed. ∎ begin to speak or write about something in the specified manner: they waxed lyrical about the old days. PHRASES: wax and wane undergo alternate increases and decreases: companies whose fortunes wax and wane with the economic cycle. wax3 • n. [usu. in sing.] Brit., inf., dated a fit of anger: she is in a wax about the delay to the wedding.
wax, substance secreted by glands on the abdomen of the bee and known commonly as beeswax; also various substances resembling beeswax. Waxes are mixtures comprising chiefly esters of monohydroxy alcohols, besides other esters and free fatty acids, free alcohols, and higher hydrocarbons. They differ from fats in that fats contain chiefly esters of glycerol. Waxes are generally harder and less greasy than fats, but like fats they are less dense than water and are soluble in alcohol and ether but not in water. Among the waxes derived from plants are carnauba wax, obtained from the leaves of a palm grown in Brazil, and candelilla wax, produced by a Mexican plant (Euphorbia antisyphilitica). Those of animal origin include wool wax, or lanolin, obtained from the surface of wool fibers and used in making certain creams, ointments, and soaps, in the processes of finishing and softening leather, and as an ingredient of some paints and varnishes; spermaceti, obtained from the sperm whale, and Chinese wax, which is deposited on certain trees in parts of Asia (especially China and India) by a species of scale insect. Mineral waxes include ozocerite and paraffin, both composed of hydrocarbons. Japan wax and bayberry (or myrtle) wax are composed chiefly of fats.
See L. Roth and J. Weiner, Waxes, Waxing and Wax Modifiers (1961); H. Bennett, Industrial Waxes (2 vol., 1963); P. E. Kolattukudy, ed., Chemistry and Biochemistry of Natural Waxes (1976).
- 1. the art or process of writing or engraving on wax.
- 2. Rare. the art or process of making paintings with colors mixed with beeswax and fixed with heat; encaustic painting. —cerographist , n. —cero-graphic, cerographical , adj.
- a form of divination involving dropping melted wax into water.
- the art of modeling with wax. —ceroplastic , adj.
Hence wax vb., waxen (-EN2) XIV; repl. OE. wexen, *wiexen. waxwork modelling in wax. XVII.