tan·​ta·​lize | \ ˈtan-tə-ˌlīz How to pronounce tantalize (audio) \
tantalized; tantalizing

Definition of tantalize

transitive verb

: to tease or torment by or as if by presenting something desirable to the view but continually keeping it out of reach

intransitive verb

: to cause one to be tantalized

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Other Words from tantalize

tantalizer noun

Did You Know?

Pity poor King Tantalus of Phrygia. The mythic monarch offended the ancient Greek gods. As punishment, he was plunged up to his chin in water in Hades, where he had to stand beneath overhanging boughs of a tree heavily laden with ripe, juicy fruit. But though he was always hungry and thirsty, Tantalus could neither drink the water nor eat the fruit. Anytime he reached for them, they would retreat from him. Our word tantalize is taken from the name of the eternally tormented king.

Examples of tantalize in a Sentence

She was tantalized by the possibility of earning a lot of money quickly.
Recent Examples on the Web Just a window into internal Treasury Department discussions would tantalize the Kremlin’s spies, given the growing U.S. reliance on sanctions to punish Russian aggression in recent years. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "'Christmas present': Hack could spur Russian spy operations against US officials and businesses," 23 Dec. 2020 To ensure there’s enough to tantalize your tastebuds without the animal fat, be generous with your spices. Kelsey Ogletree, Better Homes & Gardens, "4 Chef-Tested Tips for a Delicious Plant-Based Christmas Menu," 15 Dec. 2020 Dunkin' Donuts wants to tantalize your taste buds this year, offering a holiday goodie that combines hot and spicy flavors with a sweet yeast doughnut. Mary Colurso | Mcolurso@al.com, al, "Spicy Ghost Pepper doughnut: Sweet treat or hot mess?," 22 Oct. 2020 Nonetheless, the opportunity to tear up the country and begin again from the ground up has continued to tantalize activist imaginations at key junctures in the struggle to advance the cause of racial equity. Jabari Asim, The New Republic, "The Douglass Republic," 14 Aug. 2020 In the late 1990s, Napster tantalized us with the prospect of a universal digital musical library at our fingertips—no permission sought or granted. Noam Cohen, Wired, "The National Emergency Library and Its Discontents," 20 Apr. 2020 Much like the mythological sphinx, Taylor Swift is prone to speaking—and posting on Instagram—in elaborate riddles, tantalizing her fans with esoteric clues about the new projects she's got in the works. Emily Dixon, Marie Claire, "The Internet Thinks Taylor Swift's Latest Instagram Post Has a Hidden Meaning," 28 Apr. 2020 Shook is a tantalizing pro power forward prospect because of her size (6-foot-4), shot-blocking ability (Louisville’s all-time leader in blocks) and her ability to face-up and jump shoot, particularly in pick-and-pop situations. Hayes Gardner, The Courier-Journal, "Where will Louisville’s Kylee Shook and Jazmine Jones be picked in WNBA Draft?," 16 Apr. 2020 There is something tantalizing about being there but not being there, about being everywhere and nowhere at once. Reif Larsen, New York Times, "How to See the World When You’re Stuck at Home," 24 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tantalize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of tantalize

1597, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for tantalize


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Time Traveler for tantalize

Time Traveler

The first known use of tantalize was in 1597

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Last Updated

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tantalize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tantalize. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for tantalize



English Language Learners Definition of tantalize

: to cause (someone) to feel interest or excitement about something that is very attractive, appealing, etc.


tan·​ta·​lize | \ ˈtan-tə-ˌlīz How to pronounce tantalize (audio) \
tantalized; tantalizing

Kids Definition of tantalize

: to tease or excite by or as if by showing, mentioning, or offering something desirable but keeping it out of reach Annemarie always tried … to build up the suspense and tantalize her sister.— Lois Lowry, Number the Stars

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