To tantalize means to tease or torment someone with the promise of something that is desirable but unattainable. It involves presenting someone with something that they want, only to keep it out of their reach, either intentionally or unintentionally.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech

Tantalize is a transitive verb.


Tease, torment, provoke, entice, tempt, allure, attract, excite, provoke.


Satisfy, gratify, content, fulfill.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun tantalisers, tantalus, tantaluses, tantaliser, tantalization, tantalizers, tantalizations, tantalizer
Verb tantalized, tantalize, tantalizing, tantalise, tantalizes
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The aroma of the freshly baked cake tantalized him as he waited for dinner to be served.

  • The exclusive club tantalized her with the promise of entry but never sent her an invitation.

  • The exotic vacation packages on display tantalized her with the promise of adventure and luxury.

  • The tantalizing aroma of freshly baked bread wafted through the air, filling the kitchen with an irresistible scent that teased the senses, beckoning all who caught a whiff to indulge in the warm, crusty goodness that awaited them, as the golden loaves emerged from the oven, their tempting allure amplified by the crackling sound as they cooled, their tantalizing textures and flavors promising a culinary experience that would delight taste buds and leave a lasting impression, a true testament to the power of food to captivate and satisfy.


The word “tantalize” comes from the story of Tantalus in Greek mythology, who was punished by the gods for his arrogance by being forced to stand in a pool of water with a fruit tree hanging overhead, perpetually taunted by his thirst and hunger as the water and fruit retreated from his grasp. Today, the word is used to describe situations in which something desirable is dangled in front of someone but kept out of reach, often creating a sense of frustration or disappointment.

Tantalize is often used in situations where someone is tempting or teasing someone else with something that they want, but that they cannot have or cannot access. For example, a restaurant might tantalize its customers with the aroma of fresh food, or a store might tantalize shoppers with the promise of a sale. In more personal contexts, someone might tantalize another person with flirtatious behavior or suggestive words or actions.

Tantalize can be used with prefixes and suffixes to create new words with similar meanings. For example, the prefix “de-” can be added to “tantalize” to create “detantalize,” which means to remove the temptation or allure of something. The suffix “-ing” can be added to “tantalize” to create “tantalizing,” which is an adjective used to describe something that is highly tempting or alluring.

In everyday usage, the word “tantalize” is often used to describe situations in which someone is being teased or tempted with something desirable. It can be used to convey a sense of frustration or disappointment, as well as a sense of excitement or anticipation. The word “tantalize” can be a useful tool for writers and speakers who want to describe situations in which someone is being tempted or teased, or who want to create a sense of anticipation or desire.