Wax Lyrical: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
June 30, 2023

"Wax lyrical" is an intriguing idiom that is rich with meaning and history. In essence, it's a phrase that one uses when someone is speaking passionately and enthusiastically about a particular subject, be it a hobby, a person, or even an idea. This idiomatic expression is quite common in both formal and informal settings. It is often used to describe someone's fervent enthusiasm or excessive praise for something or someone.

In short:

"Wax Lyrical" refers to speaking or writing about something with great enthusiasm and vigor.

What Does "Wax Lyrical" Mean?

The idiom "Wax Lyrical" often indicates a state of verbal effusiveness. This can range from expressing praise, excitement, admiration, or even love for something or someone. It's about becoming increasingly verbose in a poetic, passionate, or eloquent way.  There are also other related expressions and variations, such as "wax eloquent," which also emphasizes passionate, impressive speech but may have more emphasis on the eloquence or sophistication of the language used.

  • Appreciation: It often represents an appreciation for something or someone, where a person would speak in a way that highlights their admiration or respect.
  • Enthusiasm: It can also indicate an intense interest in a subject. For instance, a person might "wax lyrical" about their favorite book or movie.

Where Does "Wax Lyrical" Come From?

In Old and Middle English, "wax" was used as a verb meaning to grow or increase. It traces back to the Old English word "weaxan", which holds this meaning. This particular usage of "wax" can be seen in several old phrases and idioms such as "wax eloquent" (to become increasingly eloquent), "wax wroth" (to become increasingly angry), etc. "Lyrical," on the other hand, comes from the Latin word "lyrics," implying something suitable for song or lyric. In English, it began being used to describe enthusiastically expressing personal feelings. When combined, these two words form the idiom "wax lyrical," which means to talk about something enthusiastically and excitedly.

Historical Usage

"And he waxed lyrical about his invention."

— From 'A Pair of Blue Eyes' by Thomas Hardy, 1873

10 Examples of "Wax Lyrical" in Sentences

Let's illustrate the idiom's application in different sentences:

  • After siping his coffee, John began to wax lyrical about its exquisite flavor, making it seem like he was describing a rare vintage wine instead of his morning brew.
  • I could wax lyrical about the sublime taste of this coffee all day long.
  • I wish you all the best as you wax lyrical about your passions and pursuits.
  • Don't get him started on cars; he'll just wax lyrical for hours.
  • The teacher began to wax lyrical about the impact of historical events.
  • She was so passionate about poetry that she would wax lyrical for hours, but when she found out her favorite poet retired, she exclaimed, "That sucks!"
  • He always waxes lyrical about his favorite football team.
  • The artist was known to wax lyrical about the colors of a sunset.
  • I can wax lyrical about the importance of a good education.
  • I completely forgot to bring my notes for the presentation, my bad. But don't worry; I can wax lyrical about the topic from memory!

Examples of "Wax Lyrical" in Pop Culture

The idiom also finds itself expressed in pop culture:

  • In the movie "Good Will Hunting," Robin Williams' character waxes lyrical about his late wife.
  • In the sitcom "Friends," Ross often waxes lyrical about his love for dinosaurs.
  • In the Harry Potter series, Albus Dumbledore waxes lyrical about the power of love.
  • In the TV show "Breaking Bad," Walter White waxes lyrical about chemistry.
  • In the novel "Pride and Prejudice," Mr. Darcy waxes lyrical about Elizabeth Bennet's fine eyes.
  • In the TV series "The Office," Michael Scott often waxes lyrical about his management skills.
  • In the movie "The Great Gatsby," Jay Gatsby waxes lyrical about his love for Daisy.
  • In the TV show "Game of Thrones," Tyrion Lannister waxes lyrical about the power of knowledge.

Other Ways to Say "Wax Lyrical" in Sentences

There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "wax lyrical."

Some of these include:

  • She rhapsodized about the beauty of Paris at night.
  • He enthuses about the virtues of physical fitness.
  • I could gush over the beauty of this painting for hours.
  • He expressed passionate admiration for her courage and determination.
  • They extolled the virtues of a balanced diet.
  • She spoke glowingly about her mentor's influence.
  • celebrated the achievements of the team in my speech.
  • He lavished praise on her cooking skills.
  • She praised the dedication of her employees effusively.
  • sang the praises of her magnanimous spirit.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Wax Lyrical"

  • What is the origin of the idiom "wax lyrical"?

The term "wax lyrical" has its roots in Old English and Ancient Greek. "Wax" meant to grow or increase in Old English, and "lyrical" comes from the Greek word "lyrikos," meaning "singing to the lyre."

  • Can "wax lyrical" be used in formal writing?

Yes, "wax lyrical" is acceptable in both formal and informal contexts.

  • Does "wax lyrical" has a negative connotation?

No, "wax lyrical" is usually used to describe enthusiastic and passionate speech and does not carry a negative connotation.

  • Is "wax lyrical" a British or American idiom?

"Wax lyrical" is commonly used in both British and American English.

  • Can "wax lyrical" refer to written text?

Yes, while it's often used to describe speech, it can also be used to refer to writing that is effusive or enthusiastic.

  • What's the difference between "wax lyrical" and "wax eloquent"?

Both idioms refer to passionate, impressive speech. However, "wax eloquent" emphasizes the eloquence or sophistication of the language used.

  • What's an antonym for "wax lyrical"?

An antonym could be "speak tersely," as it represents a limited or curt expression.

  • Is "wax lyrical" used in pop culture?

Yes, the idiom "wax lyrical" appears in various TV shows, movies, and books, used to characterize passionate, enthusiastic speech or thoughts.

  • What's another idiom similar to "wax lyrical"?

A similar idiom would be "sing someone's praises," meaning to express enthusiastic admiration or approval of someone.

  • Can you give me a sentence example with "wax lyrical"?

For instance, "My professor can wax lyrical about ancient Greek philosophy for hours."

Final Thoughts About "Wax Lyrical"

The idiom "wax lyrical" is a powerful expression that reflects our capacity to communicate passion, enthusiasm, and admiration. It's an integral part of our everyday language, testifying to the lyrical, expressive nature of human communication.

Key aspects of the phrase "wax lyrical":

  • "Wax Lyrical" generally refers to speaking or writing about something with a great deal of enthusiasm and passion.
  • The idiom is of Old English and Ancient Greek origin.
  • It can be used in both formal and informal contexts and does not carry a negative connotation.

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