taper

To taper is to gradually grow smaller or more narrow or less intense. Taper is often used with the word "off." Part of the power of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is how the two walls appear to taper off into infinity.

As a verb, taper can refer not just to physical objects that narrow: the weather forecast might call for heavy snow that will taper off at the end of the day, and public interest in a political scandal might taper off over time. As a noun, taper refers to a shape that narrows at one end, and it's also another word for a candle that is smaller at one end than the other. "Narrow candle" is the original meaning of the word, and it seems to derive from the Latin papyrus, which was once used to make candle wicks.

Definitions of taper
  1. verb
    diminish gradually
    “Interested tapered off”
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    type of:
    decrease, diminish, fall, lessen
    decrease in size, extent, or range
  2. verb
    give a point to
    “The candles are tapered
    synonyms: point, sharpen
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    types:
    acuminate
    make sharp or acute; taper; make (something) come to a point
    type of:
    change form, change shape, deform
    assume a different shape or form
  3. noun
    a convex shape that narrows toward a point
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    type of:
    convex shape, convexity
    a shape that curves or bulges outward
  4. noun
    the property possessed by a shape that narrows toward a point (as a wedge or cone)
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    types:
    point, pointedness
    the property of a shape that tapers to a sharp tip
    unpointedness
    the property of having only a dull tip (if any)
    type of:
    narrowing
    an instance of becoming narrow
  5. noun
    a loosely woven cord (in a candle or oil lamp) that draws fuel by capillary action up into the flame
    synonyms: wick
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    types:
    candlewick
    the wick of a candle
    type of:
    cord
    a line made of twisted fibers or threads
  6. noun
    stick of wax with a wick in the middle
    synonyms: candle, wax light
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    types:
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    chandlery
    candles and other commodities sold by a chandler
    dip
    a candle that is made by repeated dipping in a pool of wax or tallow
    rush candle, rushlight
    a tallow candle with a rush stem as the wick
    vigil candle, vigil light
    a candle lighted by a worshiper in a church
    type of:
    lamp
    an artificial source of visible illumination
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