[than-uh-tos, -tohs]


an ancient Greek personification of death.
Psychoanalysis. (usually lowercase) the death instinct, especially as expressed in violent aggression.

Related formsThan·a·tot·ic [than-uh-tot-ik] /ˌθæn əˈtɒt ɪk/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for thanatos

Historical Examples of thanatos

  • But there is one reason more, which I have reserved for the last: Thanatos summons me.

    Quo Vadis

    Henryk Sienkiewicz

  • At noon she awoke, crying aloud that the Red Mouse claimed her soul from Thanatos.

  • The Greeks had imagined Thanatos 14 as a winged genius; that was correct.


    Henryk Sienkiewicz

  • The wind blew the flame of the lamp into darkness; the moon still shone through the storm on to the face of Thanatos.

  • When she arose, at length, she met the eyes of Hypnos and Oneiros and Thanatos—the gentle gods who give forgetfulness to men.

British Dictionary definitions for thanatos



the Greek personification of death: son of Nyx, goddess of nightRoman counterpart: Mors
the name chosen by Freud to represent a universal death instinctCompare Eros (def. 2)
Derived FormsThanatotic (ˌθænəˈtɒtɪk), adjective
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 thanatos

"death instinct," 1935, in Freudian psychology, from Greek thanatos (see thanatology).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

thanatos in Medicine



death instinct
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.