Word Origin & History
O.E. tapur, taper "candle," not found outside Eng., possibly a dissimilated borrowing from L. papyrus (see papyrus
), which was used in M.L. and some Romance languages for "wick of a candle" (e.g. It. papijo "wick"), since these often were made from the pith of papyrus. Cf.
also Ger. kerze "candle," from O.H.G. charza, from L. charta, from Gk. khartes "papyrus, roll made from papyrus, wick made from pith of papyrus." The verb meaning "to shoot up like a flame or spire" is attested from 1589; sense of "gradually decrease in size, force, etc." first recorded 1610.