O.E. tapur, taper
"candle," not found outside Eng., possibly a dissimilated borrowing from L. 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.