"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.
"Wax Lyrical" refers to speaking or writing about something with great enthusiasm and vigor.
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.
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.
"And he waxed lyrical about his invention."
— From 'A Pair of Blue Eyes' by Thomas Hardy, 1873
Let's illustrate the idiom's application in different sentences:
The idiom also finds itself expressed in pop culture:
There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "wax lyrical."
Some of these include:
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."
Yes, "wax lyrical" is acceptable in both formal and informal contexts.
No, "wax lyrical" is usually used to describe enthusiastic and passionate speech and does not carry a negative connotation.
"Wax lyrical" is commonly used in both British and American English.
Yes, while it's often used to describe speech, it can also be used to refer to writing that is effusive or enthusiastic.
Both idioms refer to passionate, impressive speech. However, "wax eloquent" emphasizes the eloquence or sophistication of the language used.
An antonym could be "speak tersely," as it represents a limited or curt expression.
Yes, the idiom "wax lyrical" appears in various TV shows, movies, and books, used to characterize passionate, enthusiastic speech or thoughts.
A similar idiom would be "sing someone's praises," meaning to express enthusiastic admiration or approval of someone.
For instance, "My professor can wax lyrical about ancient Greek philosophy for hours."
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":