from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To strike gently with a light blow or blows: I tapped you on the shoulder to get your attention.
  • transitive v. To give a light rap with: tap a pencil.
  • transitive v. To produce with a succession of light blows: tap out a rhythm.
  • transitive v. To select, as for membership in an organization; designate. See Synonyms at appoint.
  • transitive v. To repair (shoe heels or toes) by applying a thin layer of leather or a substitute material.
  • transitive v. To attach metal plates to (shoe toes or heels).
  • intransitive v. To deliver a gentle, light blow or blows.
  • intransitive v. To walk making light clicks.
  • n. A gentle blow.
  • n. The sound made by such a blow.
  • n. A thin layer of leather or a substitute applied to a worn-down shoe heel or toe.
  • n. A metal plate attached to the toe or heel of a shoe, as for tap-dancing.
  • n. Linguistics See flap.
  • n. A valve and spout used to regulate delivery of a fluid at the end of a pipe.
  • n. A plug for a bunghole; a spigot.
  • n. Liquor drawn from a spigot.
  • n. Liquor of a particular brew, cask, or quality.
  • n. Medicine The removal of fluid from a body cavity: a spinal tap.
  • n. A tool for cutting an internal screw thread.
  • n. A makeshift terminal in an electric circuit.
  • n. A wiretap.
  • transitive v. To furnish with a spigot or tap.
  • transitive v. To pierce in order to draw off liquid: tap a maple tree.
  • transitive v. To draw (liquid) from a vessel or container: tap a new keg of beer.
  • transitive v. Medicine To withdraw fluid from (a body cavity).
  • transitive v. To make a physical connection with or open outlets from: tap a water main.
  • transitive v. To wiretap (a telephone).
  • transitive v. To establish an electric connection in (a power line), as to divert current secretly.
  • transitive v. To establish access to or a connection with: tapped a new market for inexpensive books.
  • transitive v. To take advantage of; make use of: tapped voter anger to win the election.
  • transitive v. To cut screw threads in (a collar, socket, or other fitting).
  • transitive v. Informal To ask (a person) for money.
  • tap into To establish a connection with; have access to: tapped into a new market for their products.
  • tap into To take advantage of: tapped into their enthusiasm to improve the school.
  • idiom on tap Ready to be drawn; in a tapped cask: beer on tap.
  • idiom on tap Available for immediate use; ready: extra personnel on tap.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A tapering cylindrical pin or peg used to stop the vent in a cask; a spigot.
  • n. A device used to dispense liquids.
  • n. A device used to cut an internal screw thread. (External screw threads are cut with a die.)
  • n. A connection made to an electrical or fluid conductor without breaking it.
  • n. An interception of communication with authority.
  • v. To touch one's finger, foot, or other body parts on a surface (usually) repeatedly.
  • v. To make a sharp noise.
  • v. To have sexual intercourse with.
  • v. To submit to an opponent by tapping one's hand repeatedly.
  • v. To force (an opponent) to submit.
  • n. A repeated touching of one's hands, foot or other body part.
  • v. To furnish with taps.
  • v. To draw off liquid from a vessel.
  • v. To intercept a communication without authority.
  • v. To cut an internal screw thread.
  • v. to knock slowly

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A gentle or slight blow; a light rap; a pat.
  • n. A piece of leather fastened upon the bottom of a boot or shoe in repairing or renewing the sole or heel.
  • n. A signal, by drum or trumpet, for extinguishing all lights in soldiers' quarters and retiring to bed, -- usually given about a quarter of an hour after tattoo.
  • n. A hole or pipe through which liquor is drawn.
  • n. A plug or spile for stopping a hole pierced in a cask, or the like; a faucet.
  • n. Liquor drawn through a tap; hence, a certain kind or quality of liquor.
  • n. A place where liquor is drawn for drinking; a taproom; a bar.
  • n. A tool for forming an internal screw, as in a nut, consisting of a hardened steel male screw grooved longitudinally so as to have cutting edges.
  • intransitive v. To strike a gentle blow.
  • transitive v. To strike with a slight or gentle blow; to touch gently; to rap lightly; to pat.
  • transitive v. To put a new sole or heel on.
  • transitive v. To pierce so as to let out, or draw off, a fluid
  • transitive v. Hence, to draw resources from (a reservoir) in any analogous way
  • transitive v. To draw, or cause to flow, by piercing.
  • transitive v. To form an internal screw in (anything) by means of a tool called a tap.
  • transitive v. to connect a listening device to (a telephone or telegraph line) secretly, for the purpose of hearing private conversations; also, to obtain or record (information) by tapping; -- a technique used by law enforcement agencies investigating suspected criminals. In the United States it is illegal without a court order permitting it.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cut an internal screw-thread in with a screw-cutting tool, hob, or tap: as, to tap a nut or a hole.
  • In electricity, to divert a portion of (the current) from a circuit by means of a branch circuit or shunt; to make electrical connection with (a circuit) at any point.
  • To draw the tap or plug from (a cask) so as to let the liquor flow out; hence, to broach or pierce (a cask); in general, to pierce so as to let out a contained liquid.
  • Specifically— To pierce (a cask) for the purpose of testing or using the liquor.
  • To make an incision in (a tree or other plant) with a view to take some part of the sap: as, to tap the trunk of a maple-tree for the sap for making maple sugar.
  • To cut into, penetrate, or reach for the purpose of drawing something out: as, to tap telegraph-wires for the purpose of taking off a message.
  • To cause to run out by broaching a vessel; especially, to draw for the first time, as for examination, or when the time has come for using the contents.
  • To act as a drawer or tapster.
  • To strike lightly with something small; strike with a very slight blow; pat.
  • To strike lightly with; hit some object a slight blow with.
  • To peck or hack with the beak, as a woodpecker a tree, or a nuthatch a nut; break into or excavate with repeated blows.
  • To apply a thickness of leather upon, as a previously existing sole or heel. Compare heel-tap.
  • To strike a gentle blow; pat; rap.
  • n. A tanners' pit, usually sunk below the surface of the tan-yard, in which bark is extracted with water and the process of tanning is carried out. Also called leach or latch.
  • n. The hole bored and threaded in a street-main of a water-works system, so that the service-pipe of the customer may be connected thereto.
  • n. In electricity, a branch line which taps the main circuit so as to divert a portion of the current; a shunt.
  • n. A movable wooden plug or stopper used to close the opening through which liquor is drawn from a cask.
  • n. A faucet or cock through which liquor can be drawn from a cask. Compare spigot.
  • n. The liquor which is drawn through a tap: used to denote a particular quality, brew, or vintage.
  • n. An instrument employed for cutting the threads of internal screws or nuts.
  • n. A gentle blow; a slight blow, as with the fingers or a small thing.
  • n. pl. Milit., a signal on a drum or trumpet, sounded about a quarter of an hour after tattoo, at which all lights in the soldiers' quarters must be extinguished.
  • n. A piece of leather fastened upon the bottom of a boot or shoe in repairing or renewing the sole or heel.
  • n. A tap-house or tap-room; also, the room in a tavern where liquor is drawn and served to guests.
  • n. A Scotch form of top.
  • n. A very irritable person; a person easily inflamed, like a bundle of flax.
  • n. Same as tap-cinder.
  • n. In India, a malarial fever.
  • n. Same as tapadera.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a plug for a bunghole in a cask
  • n. a tool for cutting female (internal) screw threads
  • n. a small metal plate that attaches to the toe or heel of a shoe (as in tap dancing)
  • v. make light, repeated taps on a surface
  • v. cut a female screw thread with a tap
  • v. dance and make rhythmic clicking sounds by means of metal plates nailed to the sole of the dance shoes
  • n. a light touch or stroke
  • n. the sound made by a gentle blow
  • n. a gentle blow
  • v. strike lightly
  • v. draw from; make good use of
  • n. the act of tapping a telephone or telegraph line to get information
  • v. make a solicitation or entreaty for something; request urgently or persistently
  • v. draw from or dip into to get something
  • v. tap a telephone or telegraph wire to get information
  • n. a faucet for drawing water from a pipe or cask
  • v. draw (liquor) from a tap
  • v. pierce in order to draw a liquid from
  • v. furnish with a tap or spout, so as to be able to draw liquid from it
  • v. walk with a tapping sound


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English tappen, possibly from Old French taper.
Middle English tappe, from Old English tæppa.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English tæppa, from Proto-Germanic *tappô.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English tæppian

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English tappe, Old French taper, from a Gallo-Romance or Germanic source. Ultimately onomatopoeic.



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  • Nigerian English - steal.

    October 16, 2011

  • “Over the past year and a half, a subculture has evolved, with Christian mixed martial arts clothing brands like Jesus Didn’t Tap (in the sport, “tap” means to give up) and Christian social networking Web sites like ”

    The New York Times, Flock Is Now a Fight Team in Some Ministries , by R.M. Schneiderman, February 2, 2010

    February 3, 2010

  • "Tap" has a sexual use among my students, typically with "that" referring to a person, as in "I'd tap that" or "I tapped that".

    June 27, 2009

  • To tap in medical parlance is to access and remove fluid from an internal compartment, usually but not always an abnormal fluid collection.

    A thoracentesis or paracentesis would both be examples of taps. A spinal tap is an example which doesn't aim to drain a pathological fluid pocket.

    Usage: "Mr Carver's got a pleural effusion on decubes, but it looks too small to tap."

    January 26, 2008

  • Pat in reverse.

    November 2, 2007