AskDefine | Define wax

The Collaborative Dictionary

Wax \Wax\, n. [AS. weax; akin to OFries. wax, D. was, G. wachs, OHG. wahs, Icel. & Sw. vax, Dan. vox, Lith. vaszkas, Russ. vosk'.] [1913 Webster]
A fatty, solid substance, produced by bees, and employed by them in the construction of their comb; -- usually called beeswax. It is first excreted, from a row of pouches along their sides, in the form of scales, which, being masticated and mixed with saliva, become whitened and tenacious. Its natural color is pale or dull yellow. [1913 Webster] Note: Beeswax consists essentially of cerotic acid (constituting the more soluble part) and of myricyl palmitate (constituting the less soluble part). [1913 Webster]
Hence, any substance resembling beeswax in consistency or appearance. Specifically: [1913 Webster] (a) (Physiol.) Cerumen, or earwax. See Cerumen. [1913 Webster] (b) A waxlike composition used for uniting surfaces, for excluding air, and for other purposes; as, sealing wax, grafting wax, etching wax, etc. [1913 Webster] (c) A waxlike composition used by shoemakers for rubbing their thread. [1913 Webster] (d) (Zool.) A substance similar to beeswax, secreted by several species of scale insects, as the Chinese wax. See Wax insect, below. [1913 Webster] (e) (Bot.) A waxlike product secreted by certain plants. See Vegetable wax, under Vegetable. [1913 Webster] (f) (Min.) A substance, somewhat resembling wax, found in connection with certain deposits of rock salt and coal; -- called also mineral wax, and ozocerite. [1913 Webster] (g) Thick sirup made by boiling down the sap of the sugar maple, and then cooling. [Local U. S.] [1913 Webster] (h) any of numerous substances or mixtures composed predominantly of the longer-chain saturated hydrocarbons such as the paraffins, which are solid at room teperature, or their alcohol, carboxylic acid, or ester derivatives. [PJC] Japanese wax, a waxlike substance made in Japan from the berries of certain species of Rhus, esp. Rhus succedanea. Mineral wax. (Min.) See Wax, 2 (f), above. Wax cloth. See Waxed cloth, under Waxed. Wax end. See Waxed end, under Waxed. Wax flower, a flower made of, or resembling, wax. Wax insect (Zool.), any one of several species of scale insects belonging to the family Coccidae, which secrete from their bodies a waxlike substance, especially the Chinese wax insect (Coccus Sinensis) from which a large amount of the commercial Chinese wax is obtained. Called also pela. Wax light, a candle or taper of wax. Wax moth (Zool.), a pyralid moth (Galleria cereana) whose larvae feed upon honeycomb, and construct silken galleries among the fragments. The moth has dusky gray wings streaked with brown near the outer edge. The larva is yellowish white with brownish dots. Called also bee moth. Wax myrtle. (Bot.) See Bayberry. Wax painting, a kind of painting practiced by the ancients, under the name of encaustic. The pigments were ground with wax, and diluted. After being applied, the wax was melted with hot irons and the color thus fixed. Wax palm. (Bot.) (a) A species of palm (Ceroxylon Andicola) native of the Andes, the stem of which is covered with a secretion, consisting of two thirds resin and one third wax, which, when melted with a third of fat, makes excellent candles. (b) A Brazilian tree (Copernicia cerifera) the young leaves of which are covered with a useful waxy secretion. Wax paper, paper prepared with a coating of white wax and other ingredients. Wax plant (Bot.), a name given to several plants, as: (a) The Indian pipe (see under Indian). (b) The Hoya carnosa, a climbing plant with polished, fleshy leaves. (c) Certain species of Begonia with similar foliage. Wax tree (Bot.) (a) A tree or shrub (Ligustrum lucidum) of China, on which certain insects make a thick deposit of a substance resembling white wax. (b) A kind of sumac (Rhus succedanea) of Japan, the berries of which yield a sort of wax. (c) A rubiaceous tree (Elaeagia utilis) of New Grenada, called by the inhabitants "arbol del cera." Wax yellow, a dull yellow, resembling the natural color of beeswax. [1913 Webster] [1913 Webster]
Wax \Wax\ (w[a^]ks), v. i. [imp. Waxed; p. p. Waxed, and Obs. or Poetic Waxen; p. pr. & vb. n. Waxing.] [AS. weaxan; akin to OFries. waxa, D. wassen, OS. & OHG. wahsan, G. wachsen, Icel. vaxa, Sw. v[aum]xa, Dan. voxe, Goth. wahsjan, Gr. ? to increase, Skr. waksh, uksh, to grow. [root]135. Cf. Waist.] [1913 Webster]
To increase in size; to grow bigger; to become larger or fuller; -- opposed to wane. [1913 Webster] The waxing and the waning of the moon. --Hakewill. [1913 Webster] Truth's treasures . . . never shall wax ne wane. --P. Plowman. [1913 Webster]
To pass from one state to another; to become; to grow; as, to wax strong; to wax warmer or colder; to wax feeble; to wax old; to wax worse and worse. [1913 Webster] Your clothes are not waxen old upon you. --Deut. xxix.
[1913 Webster] Where young Adonis oft reposes, Waxing well of his deep wound. --Milton. [1913 Webster] Waxing kernels (Med.), small tumors formed by the enlargement of the lymphatic glands, especially in the groins of children; -- popularly so called, because supposed to be caused by growth of the body. --Dunglison. [1913 Webster]
Wax \Wax\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Waxed; p. pr. & vb. n. Waxing.] To smear or rub with wax; to treat with wax; as, to wax a thread or a table. [1913 Webster] Waxed cloth, cloth covered with a coating of wax, used as a cover, of tables and for other purposes; -- called also wax cloth. Waxed end, a thread pointed with a bristle and covered with shoemaker's wax, used in sewing leather, as for boots, shoes, and the like; -- called also wax end. --Brockett. [1913 Webster]

Word Net

wax n : any of various substances of either mineral origin or plant or animal origin; they are solid at normal temperatures and insoluble in water


1 cover with wax; "wax the car"
2 go up or advance; "Sales were climbing after prices were lowered" [syn: mount, climb, rise] [ant: wane]
3 increase in phase; "the moon is waxing" [syn: full] [ant: wane]

Moby Thesaurus

accrue, accumulate, advance, aluminum oxide, ambergris, anoint, antifriction, appreciate, augment, auto polish, balloon, bear fruit, beeswax, black lead, bloat, bloom, blossom, blubber, boom, boost, breakthrough, breed, breeze, brew, broaden, buff, build, burgeon, burnish, butter, candelilla wax, carnauba wax, cartridge, cassette, cat fit, cerate, ceresin, clay, colcothar, come, come over, conniption, conniption fit, convulsion, corundum, crescendo, crocus, cushion, daub, develop, disc, dough, down, dress, duck fit, eiderdown, electrical transcription, embrocate, emery, emery board, emery paper, enlarge, evolute, evolve, expand, feather bed, feathers, fig wax, file, finish, fit, fit of anger, fit of temper, fleece, floor wax, floss, flourish, flower, flue, fluff, foam, fossil wax, furbish, gain, gain strength, garnet, gather, germinate, get, get ahead, glance, glaze, gloss, glycerin, glycerolate, go, go up, gondang wax, graphite, grease, grease the wheels, grow, grow up, hike, hypertrophy, increase, intensify, kapok, lac wax, lard, lubricant, lubricate, lubricating oil, lubricator, luster, maturate, mature, mellow, mineral wax, mount, mucilage, mucus, multiply, mushroom, nail file, oil, outgrow, overdevelop, overgrow, overtop, ozokerite, paraffin scale, paraffin wax, paroxysm, phonograph record, pillow, plumbago, plush, polish, polishes, pomade, procreate, progress, proliferate, pudding, puff, pullulate, pumice, pumice stone, putty, rage, rasp, record, recording, reproduce, ripen, rise, rottenstone, rouge, rub, rubber, run, run up, salve, sandpaper, satin, scale wax, scour, sealing wax, shine, shoe polish, shoot up, silicon carbide, silicone, silk, silver polish, ski wax, sleek, slick, slick down, slick on, smear, smooth the way, snowball, soap the ways, spread, spring up, sprout, sprout up, strengthen, swansdown, swell, tantrum, tape, tape cartridge, tape cassette, tape recording, temper tantrum, thistledown, thrive, tower, transcription, turn, unguent, upgrade, upshoot, upspear, upspring, upsprout, upsurge, varnish, vegetable wax, vegetate, velvet, widen, wire recording, wool, zephyr


Wax has traditionally referred to a substance that is secreted by bees (beeswax) and used by them in constructing their honeycombs.
It is an imprecisely defined term generally understood to be a substance with properties similar to beeswax, namely
Waxes may be natural secretions of plants or animals, artificially produced by purification from natural petroleum or completely synthetic. In addition to beeswax, carnauba (a plant epicuticular wax) and paraffin (a petroleum wax) are commonly encountered waxes which occur naturally. Earwax is an oily substance found in the human ear. Some artificial materials such as silicone wax that exhibit similar properties are also described as wax or waxy.

Wax chemistry

Chemically, a wax is a type of lipid that may contain a wide variety of long-chain alkanes, esters, polyesters and hydroxy esters of long-chain primary alcohols and fatty acids. They are usually distinguished from fats by the lack of triglyceride esters of glycerin (propan-1,2,3-triol) and three fatty acids. In addition to the esters that contribute to the high melting point and hardness of carnauba wax, the epicuticular waxes of plants are mixtures of substituted long-chain aliphatic hydrocarbons, containing alkanes, fatty acids, primary and secondary alcohols, diols, ketones, aldehydes. Paraffin waxes are hydrocarbons, mixtures of alkanes usually in a homologous series of chain lengths.

Uses of wax

Waxes are used to impregnate and coat paper and card, to waterproof it or make it resistant to staining, or to modify its surface properties. Waxes are also used in wax polishes for furniture and other wood products, footwear and vehicles, as mould release agents in mould making, as a coating for Edam and Gouda cheeses, and to waterproof leather and fabric. Wax has been used since antiquity as a temporary, removable model in lost-wax casting of gold, silver and other materials. Waxes and hard fats such as tallow have long been use to make candles, used for lighting and decoration in a number of religious traditions, including Christianity and Hinduism. Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights which centers on the lighting of candles, dates back to 165 BCE. There are several Biblical references to candles, and the Emperor Constantine is reported to have called for the use of candles during an Easter service in the 4th century CE. Candles continue to be used to by Christians in worship as symbols of the light of Christ. Candles have also played a role in paganism, in Wiccan ceremonies, and in modern humanist festivals. Wax candles were also used in secular life for lighting, signals in warfare, safety in travel and for time keeping, and are still in popular use today to provide soft lighting for meals and other social activities. Wax with coloured pigments added has been used as a medium in encaustic painting, and is used today in the manufacture of crayons and coloured pencils. Carbon paper, used for making duplicate typewritten documents was coated with carbon black suspended in wax, typically montan wax, but has largely been superseded by photocopiers and computer printers. In another context, lipstick and mascara are blends of various fats and waxes coloured with pigments, and both beeswax and lanolin are used in other cosmetics. Also, the sports of skiing, snowboarding and skateboarding often use wax to enhance the performance. See Mojo wax.

Wax types

Animal waxes

Vegetable waxes

Mineral waxes

Petroleum waxes

wax in Arabic: شمع
wax in Asturian: Cera
wax in Bulgarian: Восък
wax in Catalan: Cera
wax in Chuvash: Ăвăс (çилĕм)
wax in Czech: Vosk
wax in Danish: Voks
wax in German: Wachs
wax in Spanish: Cera
wax in Esperanto: Vakso
wax in French: Cire
wax in Galician: Cera
wax in Ido: Vaxo
wax in Icelandic: Vax
wax in Italian: Cera
wax in Hebrew: שעווה
wax in Lithuanian: Vaškas
wax in Hungarian: Viasz
wax in Dutch: Was (substantie)
wax in Japanese: 蝋
wax in Norwegian: Voks
wax in Norwegian Nynorsk: Voks
wax in Polish: Woski
wax in Portuguese: Cera
wax in Quechua: Mapa
wax in Russian: Воск
wax in Sicilian: Cira (sustanza modda)
wax in Simple English: Wax
wax in Slovak: Vosk
wax in Serbian: Восак
wax in Finnish: Vaha
wax in Swedish: Vax
wax in Ukrainian: Віск
wax in Urdu: موم
wax in Chinese: 蜡
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