1. A small or very slender candle.
2. A long wax-coated wick used to light candles or gas lamps.
3. A source of feeble light.
a. A gradual decrease in thickness or width of an elongated object.
b. A gradual decrease, as in action or force.
5. Sports A period before a competition or race in which the intensity and frequency of exercise and training is decreased.
v. ta·pered, ta·per·ing, ta·pers
1. To become gradually narrower or thinner toward one end.
2. To diminish or lessen gradually. Often used with off: The storm finally tapered off.
3. Sports To decrease one's exercise levels before a competition or race: tapered for a week before the marathon.
1. To make thinner or narrower at one end.
2. To make smaller gradually.
Gradually decreasing in size toward a point.
[Middle English, from Old English tapor, possibly ultimately from Latin papyrus, papyrus (sometimes used for candlewicks); see PAPER.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.