Definition of Thanatos in US English:



  • (in Freudian theory) the death instinct.

    Often contrasted with Eros
    • ‘However, he argues further that if Freud is correct, the balance to Thanatos is Eros, or the love of life.’
    • ‘He was attracted to a mixture, as Epstein puts it, of Eros and Thanatos.’
    • ‘Danger and death greet the poet's questing desire to excavate the lower reaches of the mind: Thanatos looms large in this writing.’
    • ‘Here was Norman O. Brown's vision of Eros and Thanatos translated into brilliant novelistic terms.’
    • ‘Surely that's necessary, but as Freud pointed out almost a century ago, Thanatos and Eros are hard to keep apart.’


From Greek thanatos ‘death’.