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[tan-tl-ahyz] /ˈtæn tlˌaɪz/
verb (used with object), tantalized, tantalizing.
to torment with, or as if with, the sight of something desired but out of reach; tease by arousing expectations that are repeatedly disappointed.
Also, especially British, tantalise.
Origin of tantalize
First recorded in 1590-1600; Tantal(us) + -ize
Related forms
tantalization, noun
tantalizer, noun
untantalized, adjective
provoke, taunt, tempt; frustrate.
satisfy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tantalise
Historical Examples
  • And why do you tantalise me by making me dream of an unattainable perfection?

    In Brief Authority F. Anstey
  • "You begin by being heavenly to people—and then you tantalise them."

    Regiment of Women Clemence Dane
  • They tantalise the fancy, but never reach the head nor touch the heart.

    Table-Talk William Hazlitt
  • Surely, that sweet strain was not intended to tantalise him.

    The Maroon Mayne Reid
  • You tantalise me to death with talking of conversations by the fireside.

    Charlotte Bronte and Her Circle Clement K. Shorter
  • Sibylla began again: to tantalise him seemed a necessity of her life.

    Verner's Pride Mrs. Henry Wood
  • You must only give them a peep of the truth, just enough to tantalise them.

    The Possessed Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Once a day a small ration was doled out--pitifully small--enough to tantalise appetite, but not to still hunger.

    The Gaunt Gray Wolf Dillon Wallace
  • The few drops that fell upon his patiently protruded tongue served only to tantalise him.

    Philosopher Jack R.M. Ballantyne
  • She must tantalise him sufficiently, must keep him on tenterhooks, not make herself too cheap.

British Dictionary definitions for tantalise


(transitive) to tease or make frustrated, as by tormenting with the sight of something greatly desired but inaccessible
Derived Forms
tantalization, tantalisation, noun
tantalizer, tantaliser, noun
tantalizing, tantalising, adjective
tantalizingly, tantalisingly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from the punishment of Tantalus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tantalise



1590s, from Latin Tantalus, from Greek Tantalos, king of Phrygia, son of Zeus, punished in the afterlife (for an offense variously given) by being made to stand in a river up to his chin, under branches laden with fruit, all of which withdrew from his reach whenever he tried to eat or drink. His story was known to Chaucer (c.1369).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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