See more synonyms for tape on Thesaurus.com
  1. a long, narrow strip of linen, cotton, or the like, used for tying garments, binding seams or carpets, etc.
  2. a long, narrow strip of paper, metal, etc.
  3. a strip of cloth, paper, or plastic with an adhesive surface, used for sealing, binding, or attaching items together; adhesive tape or masking tape.
  4. tape measure.
  5. a string stretched across the finishing line in a race and broken by the winning contestant on crossing the line.
  6. ticker tape.
  7. magnetic tape.
  8. a magnetic tape carrying prerecorded sound: a tape of a rock concert.
verb (used with object), taped, tap·ing.
  1. to furnish with a tape or tapes.
  2. to tie up, bind, or attach with tape.
  3. to measure with or as if with a tape measure.
  4. to record or prerecord on magnetic tape.
verb (used without object), taped, tap·ing.
  1. to record something on magnetic tape.

Origin of tape

before 1000; Middle English; unexplained variant of tappe, Old English tæppe strip (of cloth), literally, part torn off; akin to Middle Low German teppen to tear, pluck
Related formstape·less, adjectivetape·like, adjectivepre·tape, verb (used with object), pre·taped, pre·tap·ing.re·tape, verb (used with object), re·taped, re·tap·ing.un·taped, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for tape


  1. a long thin strip, made of cotton, linen, etc, used for binding, fastening, etc
  2. any long narrow strip of cellulose, paper, metal, etc, having similar uses
  3. a string stretched across the track at the end of a race course
  4. military slang, mainly British another word for stripe 1 (def. 3)
  5. See magnetic tape, ticker tape, paper tape, tape recording
verb (mainly tr)
  1. Also: tape-record (also intr) to record (speech, music, etc)
  2. to furnish with tapes
  3. to bind, measure, secure, or wrap with tape
  4. (usually passive) British informal to take stock of (a person or situation); sum uphe's got the job taped
Derived Formstapelike, adjectivetaper, noun

Word Origin for tape

Old English tæppe; related to Old Frisian tapia to pull, Middle Dutch tapen to tear
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 tape

Old English tæppe "narrow strip of cloth used for tying, measuring, etc.," of uncertain origin, perhaps a back-formation from Latin tapete "carpet." The original short vowel became long in Middle English.

Tape recorder "device for recording sound on magnetic tape" first attested 1932; from earlier meaning "device for recording data on ticker tape" (1892), from tape in the sense of "paper strip of a printer" (1884). Tape-measure is attested from 1873; tape-delay is from 1968.


c.1600, from tape (n.); meaning "to make a tape recording" is from 1950. Related: Taped; taping.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with tape


see red tape.

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