Waxing Poetic: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
June 8, 2023

The idiom "waxing poetic" describes the action of speaking or writing in an increasingly enthusiastic or eloquent manner. Often, this phrase is used when someone starts using a more florid or poetic language than might be expected or necessary. Depending on the context, it can be both a compliment and a critique. The phrase can also describe someone who becomes more and more passionate or engaged as they continue talking or writing about a subject they love. 

In short:

"Waxing poetic" refers to speaking or writing in an increasingly elaborate, enthusiastic, or passionate manner, often to the point of being overly poetic or dramatic.

What Does "Waxing Poetic" Mean?

The idiom "waxing poetic" describes someone who becomes increasingly passionate, emotional, or elaborate in their speech or writing. It captures the essence of a person who starts to use more florid or poetic language as they discuss a topic close to their heart. While the term is usually used in the context of speech or writing, it can also be applied to other forms of expression, such as music or art, where the creator becomes increasingly passionate or elaborate in their work.

  • The idiom can indicate increased enthusiasm or engagement as someone talks about a subject they are passionate about.
  • It may also imply overly dramatic or poetic language, which can be seen as either positive (a sign of creativity and eloquence) or negative (a sign of pretentiousness).
  • "Waxing poetic" can be used in both formal and informal contexts. However, it is more commonly used in informal settings or literary critique.

Where Does "Waxing Poetic" Come From?

The idiom "waxing poetic" has a rich historical background that traces back to the Old English period. The origins of the idiom involve the intricate weaving of linguistics and literature. At the core of this phrase is the verb "wax," an Old English word that originally meant "to grow" or "to become." This word had a broad application in Old English and Middle English literature.

Historical Example

"He waxed poetic about the charms of the wild landscape."

—"The Northern Clemency" by Philip Hensher (2008)

10 Examples of "Waxing Poetic" in Sentences

Here are ten examples that demonstrate the usage of "waxing poetic" in various contexts:

  • At the poetry slam, the jive turkey poet strutted onto the stage, confidently waxing poetic about love's intricacies and the moon's eternal glow.
  • She found herself waxing poetic as she described her love for the classic novel.
  • As the talented poet stepped onto the stage, she took the reins of her emotions, allowing them to guide her as she waxed poetic about the beauty of nature.
  • The critic was waxing poetic over the director's latest film.
  • I can't help but wax poetic when talking about my favorite author.
  • When my friend praised my heartfelt poem, his kind words were much appreciated, and I couldn't help but wax poetic about its inspiration.
  • The tour guide waxed poetic about the history of the ancient castle.
  • At the family reunion, my uncle waxed poetic about his college days.
  • As I listened to her passionately waxing poetic about her latest adventure, I couldn't help but wonder, "What's the catch?"
  • Despite his stoicism, he started waxing poetic about his favorite music band.

Examples of "Waxing Poetic" in Pop Culture

"Waxing poetic" also finds its usage in pop culture, films, music, and literature. Here are some examples:

  • In the movie "Dead Poets Society," the character John Keating, played by Robin Williams, often waxes poetic about the beauty and power of poetry.
  • The song "Waxing Poetic" by the band Something Corporate sees the lyricist waxing poetic about love and heartbreak.
  • In the TV series "The Office," the character Pam Beesly waxes poetic about her aspirations and dreams during the "Beach Games" episode.
  • The book "Bridget Jones's Diary" includes a moment where the character Mark Darcy waxes poetic about Bridget.
  • The TV series "Gilmore Girls" often shows Lorelai Gilmore waxing poetic about coffee.
  • The character Dr. Ian Malcolm in "Jurassic Park" waxes poetic about the implications of resurrecting dinosaurs.
  • In "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," the character Charlie waxes poetic about his feelings and experiences.
  • The song "Poetic Wax" by rapper Jon Bellion incorporates the idiom in its name, with lyrics reflecting the process of waxing poetic.

Other Ways to Say "Waxing Poetic"

There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "waxing poetic."

Some of these include:

  • He began to get carried away with his descriptions.
  • She became quite eloquent while talking about her favorite novel.
  • They were effusive in their praise of the film.
  • He grew more passionate as he spoke about his dreams.
  • She was quite verbose in her discussion of the artwork.
  • He launched into a tirade about the current political situation.
  • She broke into a monologue about the importance of mental health.
  • He went on a tangent about the beauty of the universe.
  • She started gushing about her favorite musician.
  • He became quite rhetorical in his discussion of human rights.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Waxing Poetic"

  • What does "waxing poetic" mean?

"Waxing poetic" refers to speaking or writing in an increasingly elaborate, enthusiastic, or passionate manner, often to the point of being overly poetic or dramatic.

  • What are the origins of the idiom "waxing poetic"?

The phrase has its roots in Old English, where the verb "wax" meant "to grow" or "to become." This was combined with "poetic" to indicate a transition into a more elevated, ornate, or emotional language.

  • Is "waxing poetic" used in both formal and informal contexts?

Yes, the idiom can be used in both formal and informal settings, though it is more commonly seen in informal or literary critique contexts.

  • Can "waxing poetic" be a criticism?

Yes, if someone is seen as being overly dramatic or using unnecessarily elaborate language, "waxing poetic" can be a critique of their verbosity or pretentiousness.

  • What are some synonyms for "waxing poetic"?

Some synonyms include "getting carried away," "becoming eloquent," "being effusive," "growing passionate," and "being verbose."

  • Can "waxing poetic" apply to areas other than speech and writing?

Yes, the idiom can also apply to other forms of expression, such as music or art, where the creator becomes increasingly passionate or elaborate in their work.

  • Does "waxing poetic" imply sincerity?

Not necessarily. While it often suggests genuine passion or enthusiasm, it can also be used to suggest affected or exaggerated expression.

  • Does "waxing poetic" use vary across different regions or cultures?

As with many idioms, usage can vary across regions and cultures. However, the fundamental meaning tends to remain consistent.

  • Is "waxing poetic" common in pop culture?

Yes, "waxing poetic" is often used in films, TV shows, music, and literature to describe characters or individuals who speak or write in a passionate, elaborate manner.

  • Can "waxing poetic" be used positively?

Yes, "waxing poetic" can positively reflect someone's ability to express themselves with passion, enthusiasm, and eloquence, especially when discussing a topic they care deeply about.

Final Thoughts About "Waxing Poetic"

The idiom "Waxing Poetic" encapsulates the beauty of passionate expression in language. Its usage, spread across different contexts and cultures, testifies to the universal human propensity for expressive and impassioned communication.

  • The idiom conveys the growth or intensification of elaborate or dramatic language, often in the style of poetry.
  • Its origins lie in the Old English verb "wax," meaning "to grow" or "to become," combined with "poetic" to denote the transition into more elevated, ornate, or emotional language.
  • The phrase is frequently used in both formal and informal settings and can often be seen in literary critiques, discussions, and everyday conversation.
  • Variations of the idiom extend to phrases such as "getting carried away," "becoming eloquent," "being effusive," and "being verbose."

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