wax on about

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beppo

Senior Member
Italian
"She was waxing on about motherhood, like she understands the first thing about it. Talking about adopting some kid from China or Russia or something. You know, some of those kids turrn out to be killers. They're abused, just sick in the head..." From "Genesis" by Karin Slaughter. What's "wax on about" ?
Thanks for the usual help.
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I agree with xqby about this being a variety of the form "to wax lyrical,sentimental,enthusiastic etc.", but I think there are two expressions mixed here: "to go on about something" and "to wax * over something". Since this seems to be dialogue from a novel, it's probably a deliberately clumsy expression, not a mistake on the part of the novelist.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree with xqby.

    However "She was waxing on about motherhood...":cross: is an error. "To wax" means to grow. If you wax lyrical you become/grow lyrical.

    wax (v.) "grow bigger or greater," O.E. weaxan "to increase, grow" (class VII strong verb; past tense weox, pp. weaxen), from P.Gmc. *wakhsan (cf. O.S., O.H.G. wahsan, O.N. vaxa, O.Fris. waxa, Du. wassen, Ger. wachsen, Goth. wahsjan "to grow, increase"), from PIE *wegs- (cf. Skt. vaksayati "cause to grow," Gk. auxein "to increase"), extended form of root *aug- "to increase" (see augment). Strong conjugation archaic after 14c.
    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=wax&searchmode=none
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    There is an interesting article about "to wax on" here: http://literalminded.wordpress.com/2008/07/31/waxing-on/
    From the context, it seems that wax away means to write or talk about something in an overly serious or dramatic tone. As I wrote then, I imagine the sequence of events that got us to a state where wax could have this meaning.
    The site then enumerates the steps to the changing meaning (or at least use) of 'to wax', leading to the conclusion that "to wax on" = “to speak or write in an emotional manner”.

    Worth a read.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    There is an interesting article about "to wax on" here: http://literalminded.wordpress.com/2008/07/31/waxing-on/ The site then enumerates the steps to the changing meaning (or at least use) of 'to wax', leading to the conclusion that "to wax on" = “to speak or write in an emotional manner”.

    Worth a read.
    That is indeed very illuminating although I have to say it makes me cringe to think of the language being debased in this way. :(
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Hi, does "wax on about" mean keep going on scientific research which feels more of an embellishment rather than a necessity for the story in the reviewer's view?

    Example
    : The book dragged when author Kerasote waxed on about scientific research into why dogs act the way they do. I skipped over those parts. The best stuff is about the mutual dependence on and love between Ted and Merle.

    Source: Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog Review

    Background: The reviewer of the book takes issue with the boring scientific information interjected into the story of the author's dog. Most reviewers who rate it 3 or below also share the same view. The attempt at padding out the story with psychological insights interrupts the flow and thus distracts from the well-craft, heart-tugging story.
     
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