Nearby words

  1. tape streamer,
  2. tape transport,
  3. tape-record,
  4. tapeman,
  5. tapenade,
  6. taper off,
  7. taper pin,
  8. taper relief,
  9. tapered roller bearing,
  10. taperstick

Origin of taper

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

British Dictionary definitions for taper off



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


a thin candle
a thin wooden or waxed strip for transferring a flame; spill
a narrowing
engineering (in conical parts) the amount of variation in the diameter per unit of length
any feeble source of light
Derived Formstaperer, 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

Word Origin and History for taper off
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with taper off

taper off


Become thinner or narrower at one end, as in The road began to taper off until it was just a narrow path. [c. 1600]


Diminish or lessen gradually, end by degrees, as in The storm finally tapered off. [Mid-1800s]

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