View synonyms for tap



[ tap ]

verb (used with object)

, tapped, tap·ping.
  1. to strike with a light but audible blow or blows; hit with repeated, slight blows:

    He tapped the door twice.

  2. to make, put, etc., by tapping:

    She tapped a nail into the wall to hang a picture.

  3. to strike (the fingers, a foot, a pencil, etc.) upon or against something, especially with repeated light blows:

    Stop tapping your feet!

  4. Basketball. to strike (a ball in the air) in the direction of a teammate or of the basket.
  5. Digital Technology.
    1. to make a selection or enter information on a touchscreen by tapping (a button, icon, or the like):

      To return to the previous page, tap the back arrow at the bottom of the screen.

    2. to enter (data) by tapping on a keyboard:

      For a breathless instant her capable fingers tapped codes into the company server.

  6. to recruit, appoint, or select for a particular role or task:

    After he’d cooked there for 20 years, the restaurant owner finally tapped him for chef.

  7. to add a thickness of leather to the sole or heel of (a boot or shoe), as in repairing.

verb (used without object)

, tapped, tap·ping.
  1. to strike lightly but audibly, as to attract attention (usually followed by on or against ):

    The prisoners communicated by tapping on their cell walls.

    The teacher tapped on the blackboard to indicate that the time was up.

  2. to strike light blows:

    The geologist stopped tapping with her hammer to examine a bit of rock under a magnifying glass.

  3. to type or enter information on a keyboard:

    He tapped away at his computer without looking up.

  4. to perform a tap dance.


  1. a light, sometimes audible blow:

    I felt a tap on my shoulder.

  2. the sound made by this.
  3. a piece of metal attached to the toe or heel of a shoe, as for reinforcement or for making the tapping of a dancer more audible.
  4. Basketball. an act or instance of tapping the ball:

    Hanson got the tap from our center, who, 6′9″ tall, couldn't lose a jump ball.

  5. a thickness of leather added to the sole or heel of a boot or shoe, as in repairing.

verb phrase

    1. (in wrestling, karate, or the like) to acknowledge defeat by tapping on the mat:

      Finally, trapped in the chokehold, he was forced to tap out for the first time in his career.

    2. to concede or withdraw from an undertaking one feels unable to continue; quit:

      The owners have tapped out of the company after nearly 16 years, although they'll retain a minority interest.

    3. to produce by means of a series of taps:

      She tapped out the drum rhythm on the table.

      The pilot tapped out a signal in Morse code.

    4. to type or enter on a keyboard:

      He used to tap out his weekly column on an old Olivetti.

    5. to remove by tapping:

      All air bubbles should be tapped out before clamping the end of the tube.



[ tap ]


  1. a cylindrical stick, long plug, or stopper for closing an opening through which liquid is drawn, as in a cask; spigot.
  2. a faucet or cock.
  3. the liquor drawn through a particular tap.
  4. British. a taphouse or taproom.
  5. a tool for cutting screw threads into the cylindrical surface of a round opening.
  6. Surgery. the withdrawal of fluid:

    spinal tap.

  7. a hole made in tapping, as one in a pipe to furnish connection for a branch pipe.
  8. Electricity. a connection brought out of a winding at some point between its extremities, for controlling the voltage ratio.
  9. Informal. an act or instance of wiretapping.
  10. Archaic. a particular kind or quality of drink.

verb (used with object)

, tapped, tap·ping.
  1. to draw liquid from (a vessel or container).
  2. to draw off (liquid) by removing or opening a tap or by piercing a container.
  3. to draw the tap or plug from or pierce (a cask or other container).
  4. to penetrate, open up, reach into, etc., for the purpose of using something or drawing something off; begin to use:

    to tap one's resources.

  5. to connect into secretly so as to receive the message or signal being transmitted (sometimes used with into ): Here’s how to tell if your neighbor is tapping into your cable service.

    Authorities tapped his phone line, suspecting that he was a spy.

    Here’s how to tell if your neighbor is tapping into your cable service.

  6. to obtain money or other resources from:

    Before attempting the project we tapped her for some quick tips on common mistakes to avoid.

    He finally decided to tap his father for a loan.

  7. to furnish (a cask, container, pipe, etc.) with a tap.
  8. to cut a screw thread into the surface of (an opening).
  9. to open outlets from (power lines, highways, pipes, etc.).

verb phrase

  1. to remove (liquid, molten metal, etc.) from a keg, furnace, or the like:

    to tap off slag from a blast furnace.

    1. to exhaust or use up the supply of:

      If we overfish the oceans, we will tap out the resources our ancestors have relied on for thousands of years.

    2. to drain or exhaust the resources of (usually used in the passive and often followed by of ):

      When the recession hit, we were tapped out and deeply in debt.

      Sorry I can’t contribute much here—I’m all tapped out of ideas.

  2. Informal.
    1. to draw on or bring into play:

      You can overcome many obstacles if you just tap into the strength and skills you already possess!

    2. to access and make profitable use of:

      We are well placed to help clients tap into these emerging opportunities.



/ tæp /


  1. to strike (something) lightly and usually repeatedly

    to tap the table

    to tap on the table

  2. tr to produce by striking in this way

    to tap a rhythm

  3. tr to strike lightly with (something)

    to tap one's finger on the desk

  4. intr to walk with a tapping sound

    she tapped across the floor

  5. tr to attach metal or leather reinforcing pieces to (the toe or heel of a shoe)
“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


  1. a light blow or knock, or the sound made by it
  2. the metal piece attached to the toe or heel of a shoe used for tap-dancing
  3. short for tap-dancing See tap-dancing
  4. phonetics the contact made between the tip of the tongue and the alveolar ridge as the tongue is flicked upwards in the execution of a flap or vibrates rapidly in the execution of a trill or roll
“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



/ tæp /


  1. a Scot word for top 1
“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



/ tæp /


  1. a valve by which a fluid flow from a pipe can be controlled by opening and closing an orifice US and Canadian namefaucet
  2. a stopper to plug a cask or barrel and enable the contents to be drawn out in a controlled flow
  3. a particular quality of alcoholic drink, esp when contained in casks

    an excellent tap

  4. short for taproom
  5. the surgical withdrawal of fluid from a bodily cavity

    a spinal tap

  6. Also calledscrew tap a tool for cutting female screw threads, consisting of a threaded steel cylinder with longitudinal grooves forming cutting edges Compare die 2
  7. electronics a connection made at some point between the end terminals of an inductor, resistor, or some other component Usual Brit nametapping
  8. stock exchange
    1. an issue of a government security released slowly onto the market when its market price reaches a predetermined level
    2. ( as modifier )

      tap stock

      tap issue

  9. a concealed listening or recording device connected to a telephone or telegraph wire for the purpose of obtaining information secretly
  10. on tap
    1. ready for immediate use
    2. (of drinks) on draught
“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


  1. to furnish with a tap
  2. to draw off with or as if with a tap
  3. to cut into (a tree) and draw off sap from it
  4. informal.
    to ask or beg (someone) for money

    he tapped me for a fiver

    1. to connect a tap to (a telephone or telegraph wire)
    2. to listen in secret to (a telephone message, etc) by means of a tap
  5. to make a connection to (a pipe, drain, etc)
  6. to cut a female screw thread in (an object or material) by use of a tap
  7. to withdraw (fluid) from (a bodily cavity)
  8. informal.
    (of a sports team or an employer) to make an illicit attempt to recruit (a player or employee bound by an existing contract)
“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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Derived Forms

  • ˈtappable, adjective
  • ˈtappable, adjective
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Other Words From

  • tap·pa·ble adjective
  • un·tap·pa·ble adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of tap1

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English verb tappen, tap, probably imitative; noun derivative of the verb

Origin of tap2

First recorded before 1050; Middle English noun tap(pe), tape, Old English tæppa “tapered plug used as a stopper for a cask”; cognate with Dutch tap, Old High German zapfo, Old Norse tappi; Middle English verb tappen, Old English tæppian; cognate with Middle Low German, Middle Dutch tappen, German zapfen, Old Norse tappa
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Word History and Origins

Origin of tap1

C13 tappen, probably from Old French taper, of Germanic origin; related to Middle Low German tappen to pluck, Swedish dialect täpa to tap

Origin of tap2

Old English tæppa; related to Old Norse tappi tap, Old High German zapfo
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Idioms and Phrases

  1. be tapped into, to be closely connected with or attuned to:

    He’s pretty tapped into his followers on social media.

    Her music is at its best when she’s tapped into her Trinidadian roots.

  2. on tap,
    1. ready to be drawn and served, as liquor from a cask.
    2. furnished with a tap or cock, as a barrel containing liquor.
    3. Informal. ready for immediate use; available:

      There are numerous other projects on tap.

More idioms and phrases containing tap

see on tap .
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Example Sentences

The growth stems, in large part, from China’s lack of access to clean tap water.

From Fortune

Smith makes a saline solution with sparkling water instead of tap water—he prefers San Pellegrino for its crisp minerality.

Heavy rain and strong winds are already on tap for Cuba, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands, according to meteorologists.

From Fortune

After having trouble cleaning the jar, he filled it with tap water and left it to soak.

Leadbetter and Yu first identified about 70 bacterial species in the jar, which likely came from the tap water.

Obama is widely believed to tap an ex-physicist who cuts military waste like a laser to become the next secretary of defense.

It should be noted that LA tap water, rather than NYC's famed brand, was chosen for the test.

Cervecerías Barú resolved problems with their draft system that prohibited them from selling on tap for almost seven years.

Ricky was very influenced by This Is Spinal Tap, and I was always a fan of Woody Allen movies.

The NSA had already built the infrastructure to tap into communications networks.

By the time I had done my toilette there was a tap at the door, and in another minute I was in the salle--manger.

"Come in," said a Cockney voice shrill with youth, in answer to her tap; and the child obeyed.

While thus occupied, there came a soft tap to the outer door—as was sure to be the case, the clerk being absent—and Val opened it.

Almost immediately there came a gentle tap at the door, and General Maxgregor entered.

Thus, the magnetic telegraph was expected for quite three hundred years before its first tap of the keys announced its presence.


Related Words

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




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