Origin of taper

before 900; Middle English: wax candle, Old English, variant of tapur, dissimilated variant of *papur paper

Related forms

ta·per·er, nounta·per·ing·ly, adverbun·ta·pered, adjectiveun·ta·per·ing, adjective

Can be confused

taper tapir

Word story

English taper has no relatives in other languages. In Old English, tapur, tapor meant “candle, candlewick.” Tapur may possibly be a dissimilated form of Latin papȳrus “papyrus plant, papyrus, paper,” sometimes used as a candlewick. Alternatively, the Old English form could be of Celtic origin, akin to Irish tapar and Welsh tampr “a taper, a torch,” from a Proto-Indo-European root tep- “to be warm,” source of Latin tepidus “lukewarm” (English tepid ).
A taper is a candle that narrows at one end. The corresponding verb sense “to narrow gradually toward one end” appeared in the very early 17th century; the related figurative sense “to gradually decrease or diminish” dates from the mid-19th century.

Definition for taper (2 of 2)


[ tey-per ]
/ ˈteɪ pər /


a person who records or edits magnetic tape, videotape, etc.

Origin of taper

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for taper

British Dictionary definitions for taper


/ (ˈteɪpə) /


to become or cause to become narrower towards one endthe spire tapers to a point
(often foll by off) to become or cause to become smaller or less significant


Derived Forms

taperer, nountapering, adjectivetaperingly, adverb

Word Origin for taper

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