TAPER (probably of Celtic origin, cf. Irish tapar, Welsh tampr, taper, torch), a small thin candle of tallow or wax (see CANDLE); from its early shape, in -which the circumference of the top was smaller than that of the base, the word came to be used in the sense of " slender," particularly of something diminishing in size at one end. In architecture the word is used of the gradual diminishing of a spire or column as it rises. The spire tapers almost to a point, where it is terminated by a finial or vane: the column tapers only to a less diameter at the top, and as a general rule the more ancient the column the greater its diminution or taper; thus in one of the early temples at Selinus in Sicily the upper diameter is about half the lower diameter, while in the Parthenon it is about one-fifth.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)