"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." - Darrell Royal
Question #45106 posted on 05/17/2008 3:01 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

While looking at a cheshire moon one night on my way home from campus, I got to wondering. What is the relationship between "waxing" as in growing (and they waxed strong in the land), and "wax" as in bee's wax?

Maybe wax originally meant something more like "built" or "constructed/ing" than growing? Or maybe "increasing" or "progressing?"


- Fredjikrang

A: Dear Fredjikrang,

Here's what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say about the noun form of wax (I love the OED!):
The root may be identical with Teut. *waχs- to grow; it seems not impossible that the etymological sense may have been ‘that which grows (in the honeycomb)́’. The view now most in favour refers the word to the Indogermanic root *weg- to weave, found in OIrish figim I weave, L. velum veil, sail (believed to be from prehistoric *veg-slom), and in certain Teut. words (see WICK); the advocates of this etymology appeal to the apparent semasiological parallel of G. wabe, honeycomb, presumed to be from the root of <I>weben WEAVE. Some other hypotheses have been proposed, but they are all unsatisfactory with regard either to form or meaning.
So it looks as though there may well be a link between the two, based on the common meaning of "to grow." Fun observation there.

—Laser Jock