To tantalize is to tease or disappoint by promising something desirable and then withholding it or, as Dr. Johnson put it, "to torment by the show of pleasures that cannot be reached."
   The legendary King Tantalus divulged to mortals the secrets of the gods, which had been entrusted to him by Zeus. In another version, he cooked his son Pelops and served him to the gods. He was thereupon condemned to an eternal and peculiar punishment. Forced to stand in the underworld in a pool of clear water, Tantalus was forbidden to drink or to eat. Every time he bent down to slake his thirst, the waters of Hades receded from him. A tree with clusters of luscious fruit hung just above his head. But every time he extended his hand, he found that the fruit was just out of reach. Tantalus suffered agony from thirst, hunger, and unfulfilled anticipation.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

(by exciting hopes and refusing to gratify them), , , , , , ,

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tantalize — Tan ta*lize, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Tantalized}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Tantalizing}.] [From {Tantalus}: cf. F. tantaliser.] To tease or torment by presenting some good to the view and exciting desire, but continually frustrating the expectations by… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tantalize — index bait (lure), interest, lure Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • tantalize — (v.) 1590s, from L. TANTALUS (Cf. Tantalus), from Gk. 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… …   Etymology dictionary

  • tantalize — (Amer.) tan·ta·lize || tæntÉ™laɪz v. tease, provoke or tease by presenting something as available and then withholding it; expose someone to something inaccessible; annoy; criticize (also tantalise) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • tantalize — tease, harass, harry, *worry, annoy, plague, pester Analogous words: vex, *annoy, irk, bother: torment, torture, try, *afflict: *bait, badger Antonyms: satisfy …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • tantalize — means more than just ‘tease or torment’, as is shown by the word s origins in the treatment meted out to the legendary Phrygian king Tantalus, who was forced to stand in water which receded when he tried to drink and under branches that drew back …   Modern English usage

  • tantalize — [v] provoke, tease annoy, badger, baffle, bait, bedevil, beleaguer, charm, entice, fascinate, frustrate, gnaw, harass, harry, keep hanging*, lead on, make mouth water*, pester, plague, taunt, thwart, titillate, torment, torture, worry; concepts 7 …   New thesaurus

  • tantalize — (also tantalise) ► VERB ▪ torment or tease with the sight or promise of something that is unobtainable or withheld. DERIVATIVES tantalization noun tantalizing adjective. ORIGIN from Tantalus in Greek mythology, who was punished for his crimes by… …   English terms dictionary

  • tantalize — [tan′tə līz΄] vt. tantalized, tantalizing [< TANTALUS + IZE] to tease or disappoint by promising or showing something desirable and then withholding it tantalization n. tantalizer n …   English World dictionary

  • tantalize — UK [ˈtæntəlaɪz] / US [ˈtænt(ə)lˌaɪz] verb [transitive] Word forms tantalize : present tense I/you/we/they tantalize he/she/it tantalizes present participle tantalizing past tense tantalized past participle tantalized to make someone feel excited… …   English dictionary

  • tantalize — See tantalize, harass …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

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