hearing a wax?

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Debinha

Member
portuguese - Brasil
Hello, there. Does anyone know what "to hear a sceptic wax" means?
(the full quotation is Have I heard a sceptic wax superior and contemptuous?") - thanks!
 
  • Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Wax in this case is the opposite of wane. It is not candle wax or ear wax or carnauba wax or anything like that.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Wax' is an old, obsolete verb meaning "grow"; we still say the moon waxes and wanes (increases and decreases), and the word is also used in the fixed idiom 'wax lyrical' (= "grow lyrical" = "become* lyrical", that is "speak highly and poetically"). Based on this idiom, it is occasionally seen as a fancy word meaning "speak", followed by an adjective (not an adverb): so to wax superior is to speak in a superior way.

    * 'Grow' can mean "become" sometimes: to grow angry is to become angry.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Obsolete in the primary sense "grow", surviving only in set phrases: wax and wane, wax lyrical, wax wroth. These phrases can be varied, so that things other than the moon can be said to wax and wane; but you wouldn't say he waxed more and more astonished as he heard the news, or he waxed fat in his old age. That is, it can no longer be used freely where we do use 'grow'.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Obsolete in the primary sense "grow", surviving only in set phrases: wax and wane, wax lyrical, wax wroth. These phrases can be varied, so that things other than the moon can be said to wax and wane; but you wouldn't say he waxed more and more astonished as he heard the news, or he waxed fat in his old age. That is, it can no longer be used freely where we do use 'grow'.
    Nearing obsolescence, but none of the on-line dictionaries I checked are calling it so at this time.
     
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