Definition of tantalize in English:


(also tantalise)


  • 1 Torment or tease (someone) with the sight or promise of something that is unobtainable.

    ‘such ambitious questions have long tantalized the world's best thinkers’
    • ‘The mystery of a shipwreck which has tantalised naval historians on both sides of the Atlantic for more than a quarter of a century is finally about to be solved.’
    • ‘That's why I was suckered into entering one of those Readers' Digest prize draws - you know, the ones that tantalise you for months, getting you to fill in this and that, tear off this bit, post this bit back.’
    • ‘The twin girls represent new story ideas that have been tantalizing me.’
    • ‘The upcoming release slate is like a mirage, tantalizing us - just over the horizon, barely out of reach.’
    • ‘The jagged rock he'd sought was three feet up the incline, inviting, tantalizing him with its nearness.’
    • ‘Atlantic City's longest lasting attraction, the annual Miss America pageant, has answered America's longing for royalty since 1921, long before the casinos tantalized visitors with the prospect of becoming rich overnight.’
    • ‘Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of New York and one of the heroes of the disaster aftermath, who spent a week tantalising voters with the prospect that he might run again for mayor, declared last night he would not run.’
    • ‘The mystery of why men fight has always tantalized students of warfare.’
    • ‘How proteins fold into their ideal conformation is a question that has tantalized scientists for decades.’
    • ‘To tantalize readers, Popular Science raises difficult questions about the theory of evolution - the evolution of man, feathers on dinosaurs and the classification of animals.’
    • ‘A good open problem thus has some intrigue, has some surprise, and should tantalize the reader; the solution should appear to be just over the horizon, rather than indistinctly fading away.’
    • ‘That is yet another question that tantalises historians, heritage buffs and citizens who are getting together to celebrate Madras Day on August 22.’
    • ‘All these years we've been celebrating the uniqueness of Pi, the way it tantalized us by going on, forever and ever.’
    • ‘On and off through the afternoon light snow showers came along to tantalize us, dusting the ground white.’
    • ‘Their truthful ideal would be a hung parliament, where they could extract from Labour the promise that has tantalised them for generations: electoral reform for the House of Commons.’
    • ‘Scientists have long been tantalized by the question of whether life once existed on Mars.’
    • ‘The sun keeps almost shining but I think it is just tantalizing us and will not put in much of an appearance.’
    1. 1.1Excite the senses or desires of (someone)
      ‘she still tantalized him’
      ‘the tantalizing fragrance of fried bacon’
      • ‘International festivals like New York City's Lincoln Center Festival tantalize dance lovers with promises of offerings that are extremely varied and unique.’
      • ‘Flamenco is gypsy music, melded with Jewish and Arabic cadences - tantalising, vibrant and complex, occasionally haunting, dark and sorrowful, but always vivid and intense.’
      • ‘A drop of oil on a pillowcase will tantalise the senses for a romantic interlude, or help to lull you off to sleep.’
      • ‘The band has clearly finally learned the importance of teasing an audience to the limit, tantalising us with the possibility that they won't play the one we're all secretly longing for.’
      • ‘Rounded ripe gooseberries tease the nose and their flavours tantalise the taste buds.’
      • ‘The prospect is tantalising, but first it's time to get down to brass tacks.’
      • ‘Ahron marveled at the bakeries, and the butcheries, enjoying the smell of fresh bread and pastries, as well as the sight of the tantalizing meat cuts.’
      • ‘Visually, the film also tantalizes the senses, with nearly every scene offering a riot of color.’
      • ‘Innovatively flavoured with tantalizing aromas and packed with exotic spices, the festival promises an enticing treat to all biryani buffs.’
      • ‘But individual bar brands that stood out over the past year tantalized consumers with fresh or flowery new scents, looking to mimic at least part of the appeal of liquid soaps.’
      • ‘More tantalising, there was lamb's liver and onion or Italian-style meat balls.’
      • ‘In other words, it's the sort of movie that's bound to frustrate some viewers and tantalize others.’
      • ‘Men and women across the nation go the movies and are dazzled by million dollar productions that tantalize the senses and expand the imagination.’
      • ‘She didn't realize she would find the control he was exerting over her exciting and tantalizing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Besides offering run-of-the mill pub grub such as fish and chips, the updated menus promised to tantalise taste buds with some more exotic-sounding fare such as black olive bruschetta and charred cod, burnt lemon and Chardonnay risotto.’
      • ‘The butter taste was rich and tantalising, while the smoothness of the fresh cream and yoghurt mix was offset by a kick of almond and sultana.’
      • ‘And now she sat on the floor in her sunny yellow room, where those agonizingly sweet childhood remembrances tickled and tantalized her senses and swept her away from reality.’
      • ‘When she moved, her hair swished with her movements in a way that tantalized any man in her radius, though she was oblivious to all of the attention she got.’
      • ‘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
      View synonyms


Late 16th century: from Tantalus + -ize.