ta·​per | \ ˈtā-pər How to pronounce taper (audio) \
tapered; tapering\ ˈtā-​p(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce taper (audio) \

Definition of taper

 (Entry 1 of 4)

intransitive verb

1 : to become progressively smaller toward one end
2 : to diminish gradually

transitive verb

: to cause to taper


noun (1)

Definition of taper (Entry 2 of 4)

1a : a slender candle
b : a long waxed wick used especially for lighting candles, lamps, pipes, or fires
c : a feeble light
2a : a tapering form or figure
b : gradual diminution of thickness, diameter, or width in an elongated object
c : a gradual decrease



Definition of taper (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : progressively narrowed toward one end
2 : furnished with or adjusted to a scale : graduated taper freight rates


noun (2)
tap·​er | \ ˈtā-pər How to pronounce taper (audio) \

Definition of taper (Entry 4 of 4)

: one that applies or dispenses tape

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Examples of taper in a Sentence

Verb leaves that taper to a point you'll find the symptoms begin tapering gradually about 24 hours after you take the medicine

First Known Use of taper


1610, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

circa 1920, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for taper

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Old English tapor candle, wick, perhaps modification of Latin papyrus papyrus

Noun (2)

tape entry 1

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Time Traveler for taper

Time Traveler

The first known use of taper was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Taper.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/taper. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of taper

: to become gradually smaller toward one end


ta·​per | \ ˈtā-pər How to pronounce taper (audio) \

Kids Definition of taper

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a slender candle
2 : a gradual lessening in thickness or width in a long object


tapered; tapering

Kids Definition of taper (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to make or become gradually smaller toward one end The leaves taper to a point.
2 : to grow gradually less and less The rain tapered off.

More from Merriam-Webster on taper

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for taper

Nglish: Translation of taper for Spanish Speakers

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