wax expansive

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redviolin

Member
Brazil Portuguese
Hello "y'all",

Could anyone help me understand the exact meaning of "wax expansive"? From what I found googling, it seems like some kind of ranting and raving in an exaggerated way, but it's still not clear.
Anyone with two cents to contribute? The context is:
"...the man would wax expansive in his ambitions."

Thanks!
 
  • redviolin

    Member
    Brazil Portuguese
    Yes, of course, nzfauna, I always look first in a dictionary, especially in the "idioms" section. If I don't find it there I try to 'google' it, and if I still don't come to a conclusion I come here, the forum is my last resource, ALWAYS. I'll try not to take your question as offensive.
     

    nzfauna

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    I was not meaning to be offensive, it's just that I looked at dictionary.com and found the answer in 30 seconds, as below.

    3.to grow or become: He waxed angry at the insinuation.
     

    redviolin

    Member
    Brazil Portuguese
    Thank you, nzfauna, but that meaning of "wax" didn't seem to fit in the context I had provided together with "expansive", hence my asking for someone to confirm my guessings or, if possible, contribute with a suggestion.
    I'm sure you didn't mean to sound offensive, but in that case you could have made a more helpful remark instead of just asking whether I had looked in a dictionary first or not.
    Thanks for the help in your second post.
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    In my experience, the most common usage of "wax" with this meaning is "wax lyrical". I have never read "wax expansive" before, but understood it immediately.

    As she talked about her travels in France, she waxed lyrical about the beauty of the landscape.

    It's a somewhat literary turn of phrase, but can be used in conversation.
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "...the man would wax expansive in his ambitions."

    This seems rather strange phraseology, redviolin. The usual collocation is wax lyrical, and it’s followed (if at all) by the preposition about.

    Nevertheless, the meaning is clear enough: “... the man would elaborate at (unnecessary) length about his ambitions.”

    Some would say that the original sentence was tautologous: ‘to wax’ means become (larger), and ‘expansive’ means large.

    Hope this helps!
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I suspect that some dictionaries will not come close to explaining what this means. None of the definitions quoted so far hit the button. As usual, the OED helps. In the 2006 addition, it notes:
    wax (verb)
    To speak or write (increasingly) in the manner specified; esp. in to wax lyrical, to wax eloquent

    So to wax expansive is to speak or write, increasingly, in an expansive manner.


     

    nzfauna

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    Last edited:

    lablady

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    "...the man would wax expansive in his ambitions."
    I could be wrong, but I am having difficulty accepting the preposition "in" if the man is talking or writing expansively about his ambitions. I would be more comfortable with that assumption if "in" were replaced with "about" or "on". Does that bother anyone else?

    That said, with the preposition "in", I'm not certain that it isn't the man's ambitions that are growing larger. In other words, I think I am in agreement with nzfauna. :confused:
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, nzfauna, as the sentence fragment is a little odd, perhaps I should have said: “Despite the oddnesses of this part-sentence, my interpretation is... ” !
     

    redviolin

    Member
    Brazil Portuguese
    Thanks, everybody!
    Actually I think that the original text has some other rather unusual and strange constructions, so that's probably why "wax expansive" sounds a bit out of place here, it was probably misused...
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    I notice, belatedly, that the term associated with the verb wax in this sense is always an adjective, not an adverb. How very peculiar.
    Not really.

    I'd say it's similar to "wash clean" v "wash cleanly".

    If I wash my clothes clean, the clothes are clean as the result of my washing.

    If I wash my clothes cleanly, then I'm washing in a clean manner. I'm not making a big mess in the laundry.

    So as I wax lyrical, my speech is becoming more lyrical, rather than my manner of speaking.
     

    Full Tilt Boogie

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hello "y'all",

    Could anyone help me understand the exact meaning of "wax expansive"? From what I found googling, it seems like some kind of ranting and raving in an exaggerated way, but it's still not clear.
    Anyone with two cents to contribute? The context is:
    "...the man would wax expansive in his ambitions."

    Thanks!

    See here - Wax for the context you seek: specifically 2 & 3.

    In short, in the context in which you use it, it means 'become' or grow.
     
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