Understanding the Meaning of Wax and Wane in English

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Understanding the Meaning of Wax and Wane in English

English is a complex language with many idiomatic expressions that can be confusing to non-native speakers. One such phrase is “wax and wane.” This expression is widely used in English to describe something that grows or decreases gradually over time. In this article, we will explore the meaning and origins of this phrase.

What does Wax and Wane Mean?

“Wax and wane” is a phrase that has been used in the English language for centuries. It refers to the gradual increase and decrease in the size or importance of something. It is often used to describe the changing phases of the moon, which appears to grow larger (wax) and then smaller (wane) over a period of time. However, it can be used to describe any process that involves a gradual increase and decrease.

Origins of the Phrase

The phrase “wax and wane” has its roots in early Modern English, where “wax” meant “to become larger” and “wane” meant “to become smaller.” The phrase was first used to describe the phases of the moon in the 14th century in the Middle English text “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” Since then, it has become a widely popular expression, with a variety of applications.

Examples of Usage

The phrase “wax and wane” is used in a variety of contexts. Here are some examples:

  • The popularity of disco music waxed and waned in the 1970s.
  • His interest in politics wanes after each election cycle.
  • The tides wax and wane with the moon’s gravitational force.
  • She noticed that her energy levels would wax and wane throughout the day.


Understanding the Meaning of Wax and Wane in English: Frequently Asked Questions

English Language can be quite confusing and daunting, especially for non-native speakers. There are multiple expressions, idioms, and phrases that can leave people scratching their heads. One such phrase that people often find confusing is ‘wax and wane.’ In this blog post, we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about this expression to help you understand it better.

Q1. What does wax and wane mean?

Waxing means to gradually increase in size, strength, or intensity, while waning means to gradually decrease in size, strength, or intensity. The phrase ‘wax and wane’ is used to describe the fluctuation of something over a period of time, with alternating increases and decreases.

Q2. Is ‘wax and wane’ used in English in reference to the moon?

Yes, the phrase ‘wax and wane’ is widely used in English in reference to the moon. When the moon is gradually increasing in size, it is said to be waxing. When the moon is gradually decreasing in size, it is said to be waning.

Q3. How is the phrase ‘wax and wane’ used in other contexts?

Apart from the moon and tides, the phrase ‘wax and wane’ is often used to describe the fluctuation of various things such as emotions, popularity, markets, and relationships. For example, the popularity of a TV show may wax and wane over the years. Similarly, the value of a company’s stock may wax and wane depending on various factors.

Q4. Can you provide examples of the usage of ‘wax and wane’ in sentences?

Sure, here are some examples:

– The intensity of his love for her waxed and waned, but it never completely disappeared.
– The popularity of rock music waxes and wanes, but it never goes out of style.
– The markets have been waxing and waning for the past few months, causing uncertainty among investors.

Q5. Is ‘wax and wane’ an idiom?

Technically, ‘wax and wane’ is not an idiom but a well-known expression used in English. Idioms are phrases or expressions that have a figurative meaning that is different from their literal meaning. On the other hand, ‘wax and wane’ has a literal meaning and is used in different contexts to describe the fluctuation of various things over time.

Q6. Can you use other words instead of ‘wax and wane’?

Yes, there are other expressions that you can use instead of ‘wax and wane.’ Here are some examples:

– Ebb and flow
– Rise and fall
– Fluctuate
– Oscillate
– Vary

Q7. What is the origin of the phrase ‘wax and wane’?

The phrase ‘wax and wane’ has been in use in English since the 14th century. It comes from the Old English words ‘weaxan’ (wax) and ‘wanian’ (wane), which means to grow and to lessen, respectively.

Q8. Why is it important to understand the meaning of ‘wax and wane’?

Understanding the meaning of ‘wax and wane’ is essential to comprehend various forms of English Language, including literature, poetry, and everyday conversation. Additionally, knowing this phrase can help you express yourself more effectively and make your writing and speech more nuanced and sophisticated.

Q9. How can I use ‘wax and wane’ in my writing or conversation?

Here are some ways you can use ‘wax and wane’ in your writing or conversation:

– The enthusiasm for the new game waxed and waned over the months.
– The tide in the ocean waxes and wanes twice a day.
– The singer’s popularity has been waxing and waning over the past few years.

Q10. How can I remember the meaning of ‘wax and wane’?

One way to remember the meaning of ‘wax and wane’ is to associate it with the moon’s phases. When the moon is waxing, it is getting bigger, like hot wax being poured into a mold. When the moon is waning, it is getting smaller, like hot wax melting away.

Understanding the Meaning of Wax and Wane in English


Wax and wane are two English words that are commonly used when talking about phases of the moon. However, they can also be used in different contexts with broader meanings. Understanding the meanings behind these two words can help to improve your overall English comprehension. In this blog post, we are going to explore the definition and usage of wax and wane.

What does Wax mean?

Wax is a verb that can be used in a few different ways. The most common use of the word wax is in reference to the moon. When the moon is waxing, it means that the visible surface is increasing in size. This is the period between a new moon and a full moon when the moon appears larger each night.

However, wax can also be used to describe an increase in something abstract that is not physical. For example, somebody’s fame or wealth can “wax” when it is increasing. Additionally, wax can describe the act of applying a waxy substance to a surface to make it shiny, smooth, or more water-resistant.

What does Wane mean?

Wane is a verb that means to decrease in size, amount, intensity or power. The term “waning” is typically used when referring to the moon, specifically when the visible surface of the moon is decreasing in size. This is the period between a full moon and a new moon when the moon appears smaller each night.

Wane can also be used in other contexts to describe a decrease in something. For example, a person’s interest in a particular hobby can “wane” over time, meaning it decreases. Similarly, a company’s profits can wane when they are decreasing over a period.

How to use Wax and Wane in a Sentence

To use wax and wane in a sentence, you need to know their meanings and how they can fit into different contexts. Here are some examples to provide more clarity on their usage:

– The moon is waxing. (Here, “waxing” is used to describe an increase in size)
– Her career waxed as she became more popular. (Here, “waxed” is used to describe her career’s growth and increase in popularity.)
– Apply a layer of wax to your car to protect it from the rain. (Here, “wax” is used as a physical layer to protect the car)
– His enthusiasm for boxing began to wane after his injury. (Here, his enthusiasm decreased as a result of his injury)
– As the sun began to set, the light of the torches began to wane. (Here, the intensity of light is decreasing towards the end of the day)
– The company’s profits have been waning over the past few years. (Here, the profits of the company have been decreasing)

Idiomatic Expressions with Wax and Wane

There are several idiomatic expressions that use wax and wane beyond their literal meaning. Here are some of the commonly used expressions:

– Wax and wane: This expression means to increase and decrease in a repeating pattern. For example, “The stock market tends to wax and wane over time.”
– Wax lyrical: This expression means to talk about something in a poetic or enthusiastic way. For example, “He waxed lyrical about the benefits of meditation.”
– Waning interest: This expression means that interest in something is decreasing. For example, “Many people have lost interest in the old fashioned board games, so their popularity is waning.”


Wax and wane are important words in English that can be used in a variety of contexts beyond the phases of the moon. Understanding their meanings is crucial for enhanced English comprehension. Remember, “wax” refers to an increase in size or amount, while “wane” refers to a decrease in size, amount, intensity or power. Keep in mind the idiomatic expressions while using these words.

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Understanding the Meaning of Wax and Wane in English