Definition of tantalize in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtantəlʌɪz/
(also tantalise)


[with object]
1Torment or tease (someone) with the sight or promise of something that is unobtainable: such ambitious questions have long tantalized the world’s best thinkers
More example sentences
  • How proteins fold into their ideal conformation is a question that has tantalized scientists for decades.
  • That is yet another question that tantalises historians, heritage buffs and citizens who are getting together to celebrate Madras Day on August 22.
  • On and off through the afternoon light snow showers came along to tantalize us, dusting the ground white.
1.1Excite the senses or desires of (someone): she still tantalized him (as adjective tantalizing) the tantalizing fragrance of fried bacon
More example sentences
  • The tang of the luscious dishes, some of them on display and others being cooked, continue to tantalize your senses as you walk along the tables set in a row.
  • A drop of oil on a pillowcase will tantalise the senses for a romantic interlude, or help to lull you off to sleep.
  • What really tantalizes you is that which deviates from societal standards in every way, though you admit that this probably isn't the best and you're not sure what causes this desire.
tease, torment, torture, bait;
tempt, entice, lure, titillate, intrigue, allure, beguile;
flirt with, excite, fascinate, make someone's mouth water, lead on, keep hanging on



Pronunciation: /ˌtantəlʌɪˈzeɪʃ(ə)n/
Example sentences
  • The photography, buttressed by watchful blocking and acting, invites careful consideration of the calamity as opposed to tantalization.
  • He is sent to the Underworld and his eternal punishment is tantalization.
  • Thus the essence of glamour which may be thought of as sex appeal by tantalisation was replaced by ‘in your face’ sexuality.


Example sentences
  • Marketed under various aliases, this tantalizer has been around for nearly a century.
  • Create your own taste-bud tantaliser with a mix of several herbs – store in an airtight glass jar and throw in some grains of rice to help keep it dry.
  • What little floristic tantaliser have you got for us?


Pronunciation: /ˈtantəlʌɪzɪŋli/
Example sentences
  • We did get a tantalizingly brief shot of dozens and dozens and dozens of trucks driving somewhere in the distance, but wherever they were going, the BBC reporter wouldn't be there.
  • In the years since '83, we have endured some lean years, and tantalizingly close calls with sports' great prizes.
  • But if you are looking for a tantalizingly greasy cheeseburger, you are in luck.


Late 16th century: from Tantalus + -ize.

  • In Greek mythology Tantalus was a king of Lydia (modern-day Turkey) who killed his son Pelops, and served him in a stew to the gods. His punishment was to be forced to stand for eternity up to his chin in water which receded whenever he tried to drink it and under branches of fruit that drew back when he tried to reach them. Tantalize is based on his name. The same story is reflected in tantalus [L19], a stand in which decanters of whisky, brandy, and other spirits are locked out of reach but remain visible. In the early 19th century a newly discovered metal was named tantalum because its inability to absorb acid was similar to Tantalus' inability to absorb water. Tannoy [1920s] is a contraction of tantalum alloy which is used as a rectifier in this sound reproduction and amplification system. Tannoy was originally a proprietary name.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: tan¦tal|ize

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