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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for tantalising
Historical Examples
  • He almost hated Edith for the tantalising smile she shot after him as he moved away, defeated.

    The Husbands of Edith George Barr McCutcheon
  • How tantalising it was to the thirsty throats of those who watched it!

  • It was tantalising to watch them and not to be able to get hold of any.

    Peter the Whaler W.H.G. Kingston
  • It was tantalising to get no more than hints into a character that interested me so much.

    The Moon and Sixpence W. Somerset Maugham
  • In this letter occurs a sentence of tantalising obscurity: 'Sola nos Alpha complectitur ubi ea littera non timetur.'

    The Letters of Cassiodorus Cassiodorus (AKA Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator)
  • What in the name of golf is the line that must be taken in a tantalising case of this kind?

  • It was tantalising, also, to reflect that we could not carry any quantity on our intended voyage.

    Saved from the Sea W.H.G. Kingston
  • She smiled a lofty, condescending, tantalising smile and left him.

    The Mercenary W. J. Eccott
  • It was a grisly embodiment of their secret griefs, a tantalising vision of the unattainable.

  • Well, if you will, you will I suppose, you tantalising child!

British Dictionary definitions for tantalising


(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 tantalising



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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