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The limits of waxing

Posted by R. Berg on June 13, 2003

In Reply to: Waxing irritated at dictionary compilers posted by TheFallen on June 13, 2003

: : : : I'm trying to find a good definition for 'Waxing Poetic'
: : : : I did a search on the archives here, no luck, and have checked around google. I know what it means but I'd like to find a well written def. TIA

: : : My opinion. "Waxing" = becoming poetic or assuming a state of being poetic. Definition No. 3 (Merriam-Webster online):

: : : WAX
: : : Date: before 12th century
: : : 1 a : to increase in size, numbers, strength, prosperity, or intensity b : to grow in volume or duration c : to grow toward full development
: : : 2 : to increase in phase or intensity -- used chiefly of the moon, other satellites, and inferior planets
: : : 3 : to assume a (specified) characteristic, quality, or state : BECOME

: : See The Mavens' Word of the Day at
: : wotd/index.pperl?date=20000921

: This one has always irritated me, and here's why.

: I've always objected to definition #3, because in my view it's both superfluous and in a way wrong. Definition #2 happily covers things, because one can easily translate "to increase in phase or intensity" as "to grow" or even simpler "to become MORE". To wax poetic simply means to become more poetic - to a point that's both noticeable and worth remarking on, I suppose.

: Wax in this sense comes to us from the German verb wachsen, which also simply means to grow.

So is "waxing underweight" an oxymoron?