Tan·​ta·​lus ˈtan-tə-ləs How to pronounce Tantalus (audio)
: a legendary king of Lydia condemned to stand up to the chin in a pool of water in Hades and beneath fruit-laden boughs only to have the water or fruit recede at each attempt to drink or eat
not capitalized : a locked cellarette with contents visible but not obtainable without a key

Examples of Tantalus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In Greek mythology, Tantalus was condemned to stand in a shallow pool of water with a fruit tree hanging above him, with the branches just out of reach. Ryan Hogg, Fortune Europe, 14 May 2024 There’s a mountain on Oahu named for the Greek myth of Tantalus, for whom satisfaction was always just out of reach. Kristina Linnea Garcia, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Mar. 2024 The 42 mm timepiece is encased in tantalum, a rare, blue-grey, corrosion-resistant metal named after Tantalus of Greek mythology. Victoria Gomelsky, Robb Report, 23 July 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Tantalus.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, from Greek Tantalos

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of Tantalus was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near Tantalus

Cite this Entry

“Tantalus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Tantalus. Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

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