from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To strike gently with a light blow or blows.
  • intransitive verb To give a light rap with.
  • intransitive verb To produce with a succession of light blows.
  • intransitive verb To select, as for membership in an organization; designate. synonym: appoint.
  • intransitive verb To repair (shoe heels or toes) by applying a thin layer of leather or a substitute material.
  • intransitive verb To attach metal plates to (shoe toes or heels).
  • intransitive verb To deliver a gentle, light blow or blows.
  • intransitive verb To walk making light clicks.
  • noun A gentle blow.
  • noun The sound made by such a blow.
  • noun A thin layer of leather or a substitute applied to a worn-down shoe heel or toe.
  • noun A metal plate attached to the toe or heel of a shoe, as for tap-dancing.
  • noun A valve and spout used to regulate delivery of a fluid at the end of a pipe.
  • noun A plug for a bunghole; a spigot.
  • noun Liquor drawn from a spigot.
  • noun Liquor of a particular brew, cask, or quality.
  • noun Medicine The removal of fluid from a body cavity.
  • noun A tool for cutting an internal screw thread.
  • noun A makeshift terminal in an electric circuit.
  • noun A wiretap.
  • transitive verb To furnish with a spigot or tap.
  • transitive verb To pierce in order to draw off liquid.
  • transitive verb To draw (liquid) from a vessel or container.
  • transitive verb Medicine To withdraw fluid from (a body cavity).
  • transitive verb To make a physical connection with or open outlets from.
  • transitive verb To wiretap (a telephone or communications channel).
  • transitive verb To establish an electric connection in (a power line), as to divert current secretly.
  • transitive verb To establish access to or a connection with.
  • transitive verb To take advantage of; make use of.
  • transitive verb To cut screw threads in (a collar, socket, or other fitting).
  • transitive verb Informal To ask (a person) for money.
  • idiom (on tap) Ready to be drawn; in a tapped cask.
  • idiom (on tap) Available for immediate use; ready.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Same as tapadera.
  • 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.
  • noun A tap-house or tap-room; also, the room in a tavern where liquor is drawn and served to guests.
  • noun Same as tap-cinder.


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

[Middle English tappen, possibly from Old French taper.]

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

[Middle English tappe, from Old English tæppa.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

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


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  • Pat in reverse.

    November 2, 2007

  • 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

  • "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

  • “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

  • Nigerian English - steal.

    October 16, 2011