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taper1

[tey-per] /ˈteɪ pər/
verb (used without object)
1.
to become smaller or thinner toward one end.
2.
to grow gradually lean.
verb (used with object)
3.
to make gradually smaller toward one end.
4.
to reduce gradually.
noun
5.
gradual diminution of width or thickness in an elongated object.
6.
gradual decrease of force, capacity, etc.
7.
anything having a tapering form, as a spire or obelisk.
8.
a candle, especially a very slender one.
9.
a long wick coated with wax, tallow, or the like, as for use in lighting candles or gas.
Verb phrases
10.
taper off,
  1. to become gradually more slender toward one end.
  2. to cease by degrees; decrease; diminish:
    The storm is beginning to taper off now. I haven't stopped smoking entirely, but I'm tapering off to three cigarettes a day.
Origin of taper1
900
before 900; Middle English: wax candle, Old English, variant of tapur, dissimilated variant of *papur paper
Related forms
taperer, noun
taperingly, adverb
untapered, adjective
untapering, adjective
Can be confused
taper, tapir.

taper2

[tey-per] /ˈteɪ pər/
noun
1.
a person who records or edits magnetic tape, videotape, etc.
Origin
tape + -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for taper
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She bore the taper before you, when you came through the underground passage.

    Tried for Her Life Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth
  • I got me to bed, blew out my taper, and composed myself to sleep.

    The Strolling Saint Raphael Sabatini
  • The outline of the fronds is lanceolate, and they taper very decidedly towards the base as well as at the tip.

    How to Know the Ferns S. Leonard Bastin
  • The resolve adopted, he took up a taper and went off to bed.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • Marie Antoinette read the letter, but not understanding it, twisted it up into a taper and lighted it at her candle.

  • Then,” said taper Tom, “you may have my fish and I will take your goose.

British Dictionary definitions for taper

taper

/ˈteɪpə/
verb
1.
to become or cause to become narrower towards one end: the spire tapers to a point
2.
(often foll by off) to become or cause to become smaller or less significant
noun
3.
a thin candle
4.
a thin wooden or waxed strip for transferring a flame; spill
5.
a narrowing
6.
(engineering) (in conical parts) the amount of variation in the diameter per unit of length
7.
any feeble source of light
Derived Forms
taperer, noun
tapering, adjective
taperingly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English tapor, probably from Latin papӯruspapyrus (from its use as a wick)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for taper
n.

Old English tapur, taper "candle," not found outside English, possibly a dissimilated borrowing from Latin papyrus (see papyrus), which was used in Medieval Latin and some Romance languages for "wick of a candle" (e.g. Italian papijo "wick"), because these often were made from the pith of papyrus. Cf. also German kerze "candle," from Old High German charza, from Latin charta, from Greek khartes "papyrus, roll made from papyrus, wick made from pith of papyrus."

v.

"shoot up like a flame or spire," 1580s, from taper (n.). Sense of "gradually decrease in size, force, etc." first recorded c.1600. Related: Tapered; tapering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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