Definitions

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

  • noun A lever or projecting arm that moves or is moved by contact with another part, usually to transmit motion, as between a driving mechanism and a valve.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Carpet; tapestry; a piece of tapestry.
  • noun In medieval armor, one of the series of flexible plates hooked to the skirts of the cuirass.
  • noun An early English spelling of tap.
  • noun In machinery, an arm, collar, lever, or cam attached to and projecting from a movable part of a machine in such manner that the motion of the machine intermittently brings it into contact with some other part to which it imparts an intermittent motion.
  • To cover with tapestry.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Mach.) A lever or projection moved by some other piece, as a cam, or intended to tap or touch something else, with a view to produce change or regulate motion.
  • noun a valve motion worked by tappets from a reciprocating part, without an eccentric or cam, -- used in steam pumps, etc.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A lever or projection which is moved by some other piece, as a cam, or intended to tap or touch something else, in order to produce change or regulate motion.

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

  • noun a lever that is moved in order to tap something else

Etymologies

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

[Probably from tap.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From tap +‎ -et, possibly influenced by homophony with "tap it."

Examples

  • There is no such thing as a tappet, a left-handed monkey wrench or a sky hook.

    Ask Mr. Fix-It!

  • Without even looking at them, he said: "One of your tappet valves is stuck."

    A Film Career Pulled Into Focus

  • On the Lancashire loom, these simple weaves can be made by installing a separate tappet shaft on which tappets of appropriate shape can be mounted and driven at the required speed by change-gearing from the bottom shaft.

    Chapter 6

  • For multiple tappet shedding, for three or more independent staves, one cam of appropriate shape is needed for each stave.

    Chapter 6

  • Bottles roll clanking on the floor, under the bonnet a hung-up tappet or two chatters its story of discomfort.

    Gravity's Rainbow

  • Each time the bell falls and the tappet strikes the pawl, one compartment of the carbide containers discharges its contents down the shoot _K_ into the generating tank _B_.

    Acetylene, the Principles of Its Generation and Use

  • A tappet on the bell of an equalising gasholder depresses a lever which causes water to flow into a funnel, the outlet of which leads to a generating chamber containing carbide.

    Acetylene, the Principles of Its Generation and Use

  • The healds are drawn down by means of a series of levers adjoining one another, and worked by means of a rocking bar driven from the tappet shaft.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 647, May 26, 1888

  • The tappet on the bell also displaces a cap _H_ which covers the funnel-shaped mouth of the pipe leading to the generating chamber, which cap, except when the swivelled supply-pipe is being brought into play, prevents any extraneous moisture or other matter entering the mouth of the funnel.

    Acetylene, the Principles of Its Generation and Use

  • The tappet _O_ attached to the bell of the gasholder come in contact with a pawl when the gasholder bell descends to a certain level and thereby rotates a pinion on the protruding end of the axis which carries the carbide containers _J_.

    Acetylene, the Principles of Its Generation and Use

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