from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Wax paper.


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  • please, not wax paper

    June 18, 2007

  • like the difference between ice tea and iced tea - please!

    June 18, 2007

  • Yes. And that reminds me of a distinction Mark Twain made between iced water (water with ice in it) and ice water, which he humerously said was ice that had melted. I must say, I still say ice water.

    June 18, 2007

  • This is a semantic that I just don't get. Of course, English is never simple or predictable. But when I think of the -ed suffix, I think of the preterite form of a verb: stayed, talked, laughed. According to that logic, when you use "iced" or "waxed" what you're really doing is turning ice and wax into verbs -- verbs that mean "to add ice to something" or "to add wax to something." Hardly the expected definition of those words, I think.

    Somebody once said "verbing weirds words." Maybe iced and waxed are standard now, but they sound pretty awkward to me. I prefer ice tea or wax paper because we're using "ice" and "wax" as adjectives to describe the tea and paper. If I add cherry syrup to my Coke, I'm not drinking cherried Coke... it's cherry Coke. The adjective cherry describes the kind of Coke I've made.

    June 18, 2007

  • Actually, I think that cherried Coke is darling.

    June 19, 2007

  • Wax has long been a transitive verb, an intransitive verb, and a noun, and an adjective. According to my Random House dictionary, the word was "verbified" before the year 900. Perhaps we should take our forebears to task!

    In the current case, "waxed" is an adjective. If I waxed my car (alas, I don't) it would then be a waxed car, not a wax car. I am not sure wax cars are legal on the highway! Similarly, waxed paper is (or was) wrapping paper with a coat of paraffin for waterproofing. Hence, the paper was "waxed" with paraffin.

    Yes language is inconsistent, messy, and everchanging. I eat ice cream, not iced cream. If I had a cherry coke, I'd probably drink it despite the calories, and I might amuse myself by calling it a cherried coke. And I am quite sure that insisting on "waxed paper" is a losing battle. But it is fun to think about.

    Having said all that I agree that the indiscriminate "verbification" of nouns is annoying and often lazy.

    By the way, I have a question that may sound sarcastic, but is not. Has "semantic" become a noun? I've always known it as an adjective. But that is a whole nother question :)

    June 19, 2007

  • To be truthful, I actually do say iced tea. I was playing devil's advocate. I figured you'd probably bring up car wax. :-)

    You know, you're right about semantic. I wonder if I've used that word before, or if I just generated it spontaneously. It does look rather wrong. I guess it was a back-formation of the field of semantics that I tried to unpluralize.

    At the conclusion of this comment, you'll probably have a decent glimpse at my philosophy of linguisticism. That is, language is fluid and subtly connotative, to be defined at the whim of those who speak it. The meaning behind my words is more important than the words themselves, and as long as you "get" what I'm trying to say, that's what really matters.

    June 19, 2007

  • Hear, hear. Well said.

    We are always treading a line between using language that is fluid enough to express our meanings and to give us personal pleasure, and conventional enough to allow us to be understood.

    June 19, 2007

  • Bingo. One one hand, you have the grammar police who pick at every semantic, and on the other hand are the folks who think they can say any old gibberish and expect others to understand. It's certainly a tightrope walk to avoid either extreme (and I've spent plenty of time in both places).

    An old professor of mine once remarked that one needs to know the rules of grammar, so that one can then break them. And always in that order. It's almost paradoxical, but it's true. Those who break the rules out of ignorance unwillingly tip their hand. But those who know what they're doing can enter the realm of poetry, where truly effective communication occurs. The strange thing is, that distinction is (usually) obvious to observers, because of the subtle differences in which rules have been chosen to break, and how.

    June 20, 2007

  • Yes, and context is a big part of it. For instance, we can have fun with language here in ways we might not elsewhere because it is understood that the majority of us, I daresay, are here because we enjoy language, and we know other people here do too.

    That said, I try to keep it in mind that there are also people who have more earnest purposes ("earnest porpoises?" "Where are the earnest porpoises?"). I want to make sure I respect that and don't do anything to interfere with their use of the site.

    June 20, 2007

  • You have porpoises named Ernest? :-)

    I just hope that if the other folks hang around here long enough, maybe you and I will rub off on them. :-P

    June 20, 2007

  • Yes, and who thought we would have gotten here from wax/waxed paper!

    June 20, 2007

  • I think all this wax is rubbing off on ME. ;-)

    June 20, 2007

  • I am one of those people who hates ice tea and thinks iced tea is inarguably correct. And I am also one of those people who thinks waxed paper is awful and wax paper is inarguably correct. I stand exposed to all your mockery. (I wanted to say "jiggery-pokery" but figured that would invite unwanted comments of a sort that would be distracting here, at best. Perhaps they should go on the exposed or jiggery-pokery pages.)

    Using slumry's logic... The tea is first made, then made cold with the addition of ice. To add ice to something could be said to "ice" that thing (just like one ices a cake by adding icing to it). Therefore the concoction is (to verbify the noun ice): iced tea. It is not tea made of ice. Nor is it ice cubes made of frozen tea. Both of these (wrong) meanings are implied by "ice tea," whereas "iced tea" implies tea that has been made cold with ice.

    I have no idea how wax paper is manufactured, but it seems like a different logic is at work here, at least for me. For one thing, it doesn't seem like paper, nor does it seem like wax. The addition of the paraffin (and I'm going off others' comments here as to what it's made of, and stuff, cuz I don't know) makes it NOT paper. One of the salient features of paper, to me, is that you can write on it (even toilet paper, facial tissue, and papyrus share this feature), and you can't write on wax paper. (Well, unless you're using a marker or something.) Also it doesn't feel like paper, maybe because the paraffin soaked in and changed its characteristics, rather than just coating it. "Waxed paper" sounds to me more like paper that has a layer of wax on it, perhaps completely covered with crayon or candle wax or such like. It's still identifiably paper, and it has an identifiable layer of wax on it. Yet "wax paper" (and this could just be because of long familiarity with the product and not an objective observation) sounds like "paper that has the strange characteristic of wax." Now, it can't be hard or brittle like wax is, because then it wouldn't be paper. But it can be slippery and smooth like wax. Similarly, the wax itself can't be so thin and flexible to be like the paper, but it can impart some of its characteristics to that paper. So... maybe "wax paper" makes sense to me in a way that "ice tea" does not, because the object shares characteristics of both things: it's thin, flexible, and crinkly like paper, but it's smooth and coated with a waxy substance. The tea, on the other hand, is very clearly still tea, and not ice in any way, other than having ice visible in it.

    I think I just talked myself into a complete non-excuse for why I hate "waxed paper." It doesn't even make sense to *me*.

    Sigh. Nobody said arguing about language had to be a *dialogue,* did they?

    October 12, 2007

  • I totally agree chained_bear, and it's iced cream, not ice cream. You whippersnappers are ruining the language.

    October 12, 2007

  • Y'all are crazy (except c_b) - it's iced tea, wax paper and ice cream. I have absolutely no rationale for my stance at this time, but I'll think of something eventually!

    October 12, 2007

  • So, after thinking about this *all night*, I decided that "iced tea" is similar to "parkway" as a place where you drive and "driveway" as a place where you park. The phrase "iced tea" describes a feature of the tea that you don't expect--because tea is usually hot. Similarly, driveway is a place where you can drive your car, even though it's part of your yard--i.e. it's a feature of your yard that you don't expect, so it has to be explicitly stated.

    Now, wax paper describes characteristics of both the paper and the wax that you don't expect. One isn't any weirder than the other, and the characteristics are of equal value. Is it wax? No (but it's a little waxy). Is it paper? No (but it's sorta papery).

    But try that with iced tea: Is it ice? No. Is it tea? Yes.

    So, there's the difference, for me anyway. The tea is still tea, but it's been verbed--in this case, iced. The paper is not really still paper--it isn't paper that's been waxed so much as changed BY the wax into something entirely different.

    I think I'll think about this for another day and night. *ponders*

    October 12, 2007

  • It's Friday, chained_bear. Take the weekend off and think about it on Monday.

    October 12, 2007

  • Not sure about the "tea is usually hot" thing. Go to a restaurant and order sweet tea. It's gonna be cold. Now the real question is, is it a sweet drink that IS tea, or is it regular tea that has been made sweet by the addition of sugar? If it's the latter, shouldn't it really be sweetened tea? And why do we drop the iced part from the name in this situation, since the drink is still cold -- shouldn't we still indicate temperature here?

    Furthermore, what do you do with cold tea, straight out of the refrigerator, that doesn't have ice in it? Calling it iced is inaccurate. Chilled tea would be a far better description.

    October 12, 2007

  • I think we're overlooking a simple fact here, and that is that "iced tea" is very difficult to say. I grew up in the South (I seem to be saying that a lot lately) where iced tea is very common--and where, as uselessness says, you have to specify whether or not you want sweet tea, the default choice. I remember always seeing "iced tea" on signs and menus, but no one actually said it that way because it's so difficult--especially for Southerners. I suspect that, over time, people started writing it the way they hear it pronounced. That's how languages evolve.

    Still in all, I always write it as "iced tea" and consider that the correct appellation for all of the reasons that c_b discovered during his overnight bout with himself. But I say "ice tea" when I order it in a restaurant.

    October 13, 2007

  • 1) "sweet tea" is always cold because that's the salient feature of the tea: it's sweet. Hot tea is not served sweetened. Iced tea is also not served sweetened--the "sweet" part has to be made explicit because it is not assumed. "Sweet tea" is assumed to be cold because it's simply a shorter version of saying "Sweet iced tea, please." Nobody orders "sweet hot tea."

    Similarly, there's no need to say "sweetened" because how it got that way (the verb) isn't the salient characteristic: the sweetness is. With iced tea, the ice isn't the salient characteristic; the cold is. (Well, actually it's the tea first, then the cold.)

    I agree that "chilled tea" makes more sense, except that it's usually been... Yep. Iced. It can be chilled if it was first iced, and then the ice melted, or chilled by simply putting it in the fridge for hours and hours. But the method's not important. Neither is the ice itself. It's the FACT that it's been chilled. Also, it's just shorter and easier to call "brewed tea that has then been chilled by some method" by a short, quick name--no matter by what method it was chilled--hence, iced tea.

    I would also remind people that it's hard to find sweet tea in restaurants outside the South. (I remember very fondly the first time I ordered "iced tea" and the server said "sweet or unsweet?" I nearly fell over with joy that it was an option to get it already sweetened. Come to think of it... I moved to the South shortly after that and never left it. Hmm...)

    2) "Iced tea" is how you spell it. You can *say* it any way you want. I would suggest that southern Americans aren't known for precision of standard pronunciation, except that *nobody* pronounces anything that carefully in casual speech. Hardly anyone, southern or not, says "iceD tea" because they just run both words together, and the D and the T sound the same in American speech, particularly when next to each other (try saying "butter" or "little" to a British person and watch him/her roll his/her eyes). Pronouncing "iced tea" as "ice tea" has little or nothing to do with being southern.

    My argument is that it shouldn't be SPELLED "ice tea," because that implies it's frozen tea, or else tea-like ice cubes. Both of which are Abominations in the Eyes of the Lord.

    3) Languages do not, nor should not, evolve exclusively based on misspellings. Just because people SAY ice tea, doesn't mean it should be SPELLED iced tea, and that's not an example of evolution of language any more than if everyone suddenly started saying "supposively" instead of "supposedly," we'd call it a logical evolution. It would still be a misspelling. (It hurt me to type that.)

    4) I'm a girl.

    5) I will defend the D in "iced tea" until ... well, probably until I get really tired of defending it. But this is supposed to be a debate about waxed paper! And I'm really still confused about waxed vs. wax!

    October 13, 2007

  • *unwrapping sandwich from wax(ed) paper, pouring an ice(d) tea*

    Uh huh. Um hmm. Go on....

    No, wait! Don't go on! Don't!

    October 13, 2007

  • Really? Is it a wodge? Mmm... it's making me hungry...

    And I KNOW you didn't read that whole post because I just posted it and you couldn't have read it in just one minute!

    You're marginalizing my discourse!! *pouts*

    October 13, 2007

  • What? Yes I did. I read quickly.

    Here, have a wodge.

    October 13, 2007

  • 1) Everything you've said is based on assumed assumptions. And we all know what happens when you assume...

    2) Language would be better if all words ending in either D or T simply didn't require pronouncing those letters at the end when spoken. I don't care how you spell it, just don't say it. That's not my opinion, it's a fac.

    3) There's nothing logical about supposively. Excuse me while I gouge my eyes out.

    4) I'm a boy. We should hook up, maybe.

    5) Was I going somewhere with all this? Nah, I guess I forgot what I was getting at in the overwhelming novelty of mirroring your five-point comment format. If nothing else, it was fun. And hopefully you've learned that when it comes to confusing parts of English, you can always count on me to set the record straight -- even when I get sidetracked along the way.

    October 13, 2007

  • My apologies, c_b, for making the assumption that you were a male. I guess we're not the same person after all.

    Hey--we need some gender-neutral pronouns...wait...never mind.

    October 13, 2007

  • Skipvia, want a bite of my wodge?

    Wait, that came out wrong.

    October 13, 2007

  • So is reesetee tee with reeese added to it, or tee made from reese?

    October 13, 2007

  • Neither. It's peanut butter.

    October 13, 2007

  • So, I think it was about 35 minutes ago that this discussion lost (for me) its character of amusing badinage* and started to creep me out mightily.

    I am now whimpering at my terminal in a semi-foetal position, apparently unable to wrest myself away.

    The worst part is that it appears to be infecting other threads as well.

    *: or airy persiflage, if you prefer.

    October 13, 2007

  • MMmmmmmm, sweet, iced wax paper tea...try it! you'll like it!

    October 13, 2007

  • If persiflaging is wrong, I don't wanna be right!

    October 13, 2007

  • Skipvia, it's OK, no apology necessary. I just thought I'd address that while I was addressing everything else in my Patented Five-Point Format for Making Rash Assumptions and Pretending to Back Them Up with Etymological and/or Socio-Cultural Wit.

    uselessness.... Wait. Nevermind, I don't have anything to argue about anymore. At least not about iceD tea.

    reesetee, is the reese the salient feature of the tee? Or is it the *method* of how it got to be tee?

    October 13, 2007

  • Ha ha, your fake word broke Wordie.

    *adds info on gender of prominent Wordies to secret stalker file*

    October 13, 2007

  • One time my southern girl friend ordered "ice(d) tea" in a northern clime, and they brought her a glass of champagne... Asti, to be exact.

    October 13, 2007

  • I'm telling ya, yarb and c_b--you're not pulling me into the tea discussion. I have far too many Es.

    Here's a distraction: try typing "me" using the ital codes, really quickly. Go ahead. It's a fiesta of Ms and Es.

    October 13, 2007

  • I assume you're talking about the emphasis tag, which renders in italics, but I refuse to try your experiment just because it's so dang self-centered.

    October 13, 2007

  • Yes, I do mean the emphasis tag. But 'round these parts, we call them ital codes. Go figure.

    October 13, 2007

  • I... actually... don't even know what codes you're talking about. *weeping softly*

    October 13, 2007

  • All the better. Last time somebody outside The Loop was informed, arby went on the blink. Absolutely nutso.

    October 13, 2007

  • Hey, I resemble that remark.

    October 13, 2007

  • The Loop? The Loop, you say?

    October 13, 2007

  • I am afraid that I may be out of The Loop as well. We'll just start our own loop. One that maybe can work on my work maybe not blocking wordie during work hours. Just a thought.

    October 13, 2007

  • Yeah! Let's do it. The Late Loop. Or...something.

    October 13, 2007

  • And then there's beeswaxed which according to WordWeb means to "cover with beeswax" with the example given "Chris beeswaxed the kitchen table."

    Does Chris now have a beeswaxed table or a beeswax table?

    WordWeb btw is a great downloadable dictionary.

    October 14, 2007

  • Through my transatlantic telescope I suspect that I spy a discussion about greaseproof paper here...

    Almost nobody pronounces in everyday speech the "(e)d" in "iced tea" and "waxed paper". The d and the t share the same place of articulation (where your tongue goes to rest) so they run together and no sound is repeated. My linguistics is rusty, but this might be a very basic example of assimilation. There's no need to think of it as dropping the t; it's still there, just in a tight embrace with the d.

    The idea that waxed paper is somehow not paper amuses me (to me it's exactly like paper, no mystery there — the defining characteristic of paper is not in my mind its suitability for writing but its composition, i.e. various organic fibrous materials, and the common, though obviously widely varied, feel that imparts to the sheets or scraps of it), just as the idea of "sweet tea" as an unquestioned fact not being hot sends my eyebrows up. The first is a deep personal association, the second cultural. O mutability!

    October 23, 2007

  • Sarra, I think your comment about the D/T running together issue is spot-on. (comment below: Hardly anyone, southern or not, says "iceD tea" because they just run both words together, and the D and the T sound the same in American speech, particularly when next to each other (try saying "butter" or "little" to a British person and watch him/her roll his/her eyes).)

    I think the argument started with how they should be SPELLED.

    But at any rate, welcome to the scrum!

    October 23, 2007

  • Ah no, you see, I wanted to try and stress that although the point about t/d in "butter" &c. is a valid one (ah! I've remembered, it's a flap), it's not really the reason why they merge in "iced tea". The sound at the end of a BrE pronunciation of "iced" on its own (well, mine anyway) is an aspirated t after all, and the same thing still occurs.

    real linguists are free to correct me!

    I hope I'm inducing some linguistics mumble effect here ;)

    October 23, 2007

  • Two years later, our migration to Wordnik has finally settled this issue once and for all. See? Just click on "Definitions"...

    November 26, 2009

  • Aaarrggh.

    November 26, 2009

  • I'm afraid to look at the iced tea page.

    December 1, 2009