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taper1

[tey-per]
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verb (used without object)
  1. to become smaller or thinner toward one end.
  2. to grow gradually lean.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to make gradually smaller toward one end.
  2. to reduce gradually.
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noun
  1. gradual diminution of width or thickness in an elongated object.
  2. gradual decrease of force, capacity, etc.
  3. anything having a tapering form, as a spire or obelisk.
  4. a candle, especially a very slender one.
  5. a long wick coated with wax, tallow, or the like, as for use in lighting candles or gas.
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Verb Phrases
  1. 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.
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Origin of taper1

before 900; Middle English: wax candle, Old English, variant of tapur, dissimilated variant of *papur paper
Related formsta·per·er, nounta·per·ing·ly, adverbun·ta·pered, adjectiveun·ta·per·ing, adjective
Can be confusedtaper tapir

taper2

[tey-per]
noun
  1. a person who records or edits magnetic tape, videotape, etc.
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Origin of taper2

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for taper

taper

verb
  1. to become or cause to become narrower towards one endthe spire tapers to a point
  2. (often foll by off) to become or cause to become smaller or less significant
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noun
  1. a thin candle
  2. a thin wooden or waxed strip for transferring a flame; spill
  3. a narrowing
  4. engineering (in conical parts) the amount of variation in the diameter per unit of length
  5. any feeble source of light
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Derived Formstaperer, nountapering, adjectivetaperingly, adverb

Word Origin

Old English tapor, probably from Latin papӯrus papyrus (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

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."

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper