Definition of taper in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtāpər/


1Diminish or reduce or cause to diminish or reduce in thickness toward one end: [no object]: the tail tapers to a rounded tip [with object]: David asked my dressmaker to taper his trousers
More example sentences
  • Their fur is lighter and less dense than European wild cats, and their tails are thin and tapering.
  • Most blades are uniformly thick along their length, but some are tapered towards the heel.
  • The long, tapering, full-coated tail is carried lower than the body but does not trail.
narrow, thin (out), come to a point, attenuate
1.1 [no object] Gradually lessen: the impact of the dollar’s depreciation started to taper off
More example sentences
  • The dosage ranges from using the inhaler intensively for 5 minutes 24 to 48 times a day gradually tapering off after 3 months.
  • Gradually the spray tapered off to a trickle of hot water, then finally a stream of drips.
  • Individuals should gradually taper off caffeine.
decrease, lessen, dwindle, diminish, reduce, decline, die down, peter out, wane, ebb, slacken (off), fall off, let up, thin out


1A slender candle.
Example sentences
  • Many people may feel that formal candles, such as tapers, are commonplace necessities for a sophisticated dinner party.
  • Inside the wreath, place a large candle or several tapers.
  • Five ancient and rust spotted iron candelabras held six lit, midway burned taper candles in black.
1.1A wick coated with wax, used for conveying a flame.
Example sentences
  • While she was gone a menial came by to light the ceiling lamps, a touch with a burning taper on the end of a pole and the gas wicks glowed to life.
  • The food's good too, of course, especially the mince pies and the pudding, but doesn't it all taste so much better when you turn down the lights and put a taper to the candles?
  • "Ok," He shrugged, handing me a taper to light one of the little candles with.
2A gradual narrowing: the current industry standard taper of 5 degrees
More example sentences
  • The micropipette was pulled manually to a gradual taper to ease insertion into the tissue.
  • Minimal hand-carving blended the narrow taper of the leg into the foot turning and created the semblance of a carved cabriole leg at low cost.
  • Visual observation suggested the presence of a strong taper in most of the studied taproots.
2.1A gradual or incremental reduction: with the taper in training, athletes can feel less hungry
More example sentences
  • Cutting back mileage is the key to a proper taper, allowing a runner's body time to recover after months of hard training.
  • Asian markets were mixed after the Federal Reserve chief hinted the bank could ease up on its stimulus taper if the growth outlook weakens.
  • While these runs may alleviate some of the performance anxiety that comes during a taper, most runners will pay for it during the race.


Old English (denoting any wax candle), dissimilated form (by alteration of p- to t-) of Latin papyrus (see papyrus), the pith of which was used for candle wicks.

  • In Anglo-Saxon times a taper was a wax candle. The name comes, with a change of p to t, from the Latin word papyrus, because the pith of the papyrus plant was used for candle wicks. The verb was first used in the 16th century to describe the action of rising like a flame, and this picture led to the further idea of something ‘tapering away’ from a broad base to a narrow point.

Words that rhyme with taper

caper, draper, escaper, gaper, paper, scraper, shaper, vapour (US vapor)

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ta·per

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