Tantalus

noun

Tan·​ta·​lus ˈtan-tə-ləs How to pronounce Tantalus (audio)
1
: 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
2
not capitalized : a locked cellarette with contents visible but not obtainable without a key

Word History

Etymology

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 7 Feb. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?

PLAY