What Does Waxing Poetic Mean?

Waxing Poetic Meaning

Definition: To speak in a poetic or eloquent style.

Origin of Waxing Poetic

This expression first appeared in the 1800s.

The definition of wax is to grow and has had this definition since at least the 1500s, but it wasn’t until much later (the 1800s) that wax came to refer to flowery speech or writings.

Examples of Waxing Poetic

waxed poetic definitionIn this dialogue, a brother and sister are discussing whom to invite to their dinner party.

Maria: So we have enough room for ten people in our dining room. There’s the two of us, so that leaves room for eight guests. Whom should we invite?

Franco: It’s a little hard to make a guest list. We have to make sure all the guests will get along, and enjoy interacting with each other. This is our first fancy party, so it has to be perfect!

Maria: I know! Let’s invite Bob! He is new to town, and he doesn’t know that many people. This will give him an opportunity to meet new people.

Franco: That’s true, but he has a tendency to wax poetic after having a few glasses of wine.

Maria: That’s true. If he speaks too eloquently, it might seem out of place with our friends who are more laid back and plain spoken. They might think he’s a little strange. Maybe we shouldn’t invite him.

waxes poetic meaningThe second example shows two university students who are complaining about the way a professor speaks.

Lorenzo: I can’t ever understand what this professor is trying to say. I wish he would just speak plainly.

Alba: Yeah, I know. He does tend to wax poetic when he’s talking about something he’s really excited about.

Lorenzo: He uses so many big words that I’ve never heard of and uses so many metaphors. It’s really hard to follow his meaning.

Alba: You can always ask him to clarify.

Lorenzo: That’s true, but he’d probably speak in an even more poetic way that is even harder to understand.

More Examples

The excerpt below is about a girl quoting a poet when she felt inspired.

  • Glancing out the window of an old school bus after digging holes to a foundation in the heat might not make the average college student wax poetic, but my youngest, Brittany, had an epiphany as she posted a breathtaking photo of the mountainous Honduran horizon, quoting poet Sylvia Plath in the process. –Chicago Tribune

This excerpt is from a restaurant review.

  • In other words, a life without love is like Chicago in the winter. But fear not, as there is a place of solace named after the late Irish writer where you can sit and sip until you start to wax poetic. –Chicago Tribune


The expression wax poetic means to talk in an increasingly fanciful way.