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1. Literally, to become thinner or narrower, especially at a gradual degree. The giant wall went on for miles, eventually tapering off into a small strip of stones deep in the countryside. By tapering off to such a fine point, the needle is able to puncture the skin without causing much pain.
2. To cause something to become thinner or narrower, as by grinding or whittling its surface. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "taper" and "off." We'll have to taper off one end of the replacement rod to get it to fit into the machinery.
3. To weaken, lessen, or diminish gradually. The storm is expected to taper off this Saturday. You're going to feel very groggy at first, but the effects should taper off after a couple of days.
4. To gradually reduce the amount of something one ingests or some activity in which one partakes with the aim of stopping entirely. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "taper" and "off." I was on a lot of medication following the surgery, but I'm finally starting to taper that off. Going cold turkey didn't work for me, so I'm going to try tapering my smoking off instead.
taper off (doing something)
gradually to stop doing something; to do less and less of something until there is no more to do. Bob tried to taper off smoking again. I can't taper off overeating. I have to stop all at once by going on a strict diet.
1. Become thinner or narrower at one end, as in The road began to taper off until it was just a narrow path. [c. 1600]
2. Diminish or lessen gradually, end by degrees, as in The storm finally tapered off. [Mid-1800s]
1. To narrow, diminish, or lessen gradually: The rod tapers off to a point at one end. The rain finally tapered off, and we went back outside.
2. To cause something to narrow, diminish, or lessen gradually: I tapered off the end of a stick and drove it into the ground. The doctor tapered the medication off as the patient recovered.
3. To gradually reduce someone's medication: After my symptoms disappeared, the doctor tapered me off the medication.