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verb (used with object), tan·ta·lized, tan·ta·liz·ing.
  1. 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, tan·ta·lise.

Origin of tantalize

First recorded in 1590–1600; Tantal(us) + -ize
Related formstan·ta·li·za·tion, nountan·ta·liz·er, nounun·tan·ta·lized, adjective

Synonyms for tantalize

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Antonyms for tantalize

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tantalize

Historical Examples of tantalize

  • I was disposed to tantalize my pursuer, and wear out his men.

    Breaking Away

    Oliver Optic

  • I caught a bit and a glimpse at a distance—just enough to tantalize me.

  • He would not only draw the warriors on, but he would annoy and tantalize them.

    The Eyes of the Woods

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • Campbell: "To tantalize me with your loveliness, your beauty, your grace, Amy!"

    Five O'Clock Tea

    W. D. Howells

  • Has He, can He have created these unquenchable longings only to tantalize them?

    Union And Communion

    J. Hudson Taylor

British Dictionary definitions for tantalize



  1. (tr) to tease or make frustrated, as by tormenting with the sight of something greatly desired but inaccessible
Derived Formstantalization or tantalisation, nountantalizer or tantaliser, nountantalizing or tantalising, adjectivetantalizingly or tantalisingly, adverb

Word Origin for tantalize

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

Word Origin and History for tantalize

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