Tantalus

Tantalus

[tan-tl-uhs]
noun, plural Tantaluses for 2.
1.
Classical Mythology. a Phrygian king who was condemned to remain in Tartarus, chin deep in water, with fruit-laden branches hanging above his head: whenever he tried to drink or eat, the water and fruit receded out of reach.
2.
(lowercase) Chiefly British. a stand or rack containing visible decanters, especially of wines or liquors, secured by a lock.
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World English Dictionary
tantalus (ˈtæntələs)
 
n
(Brit) a case in which bottles may be locked with their contents tantalizingly visible

Tantalus (ˈtæntələs)
 
n
Greek myth a king, the father of Pelops, punished in Hades for his misdeeds by having to stand in water that recedes when he tries to drink it and under fruit that moves away as he reaches for it

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

Tantalus
Gk. Tantalos, king of Phrygia, perhaps lit. "the Bearer" or "the Sufferer," by dissimilation from *tal-talos, a reduplication of PIE base *tel-, *tol- "to bear, carry, support" (see extol). Cf. tantalize.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
Tantalus [(tan-tuh-luhs)]

A king in classical mythology who, as punishment for having offended the gods, was tortured with everlasting thirst and hunger in Hades. He stood up to his chin in water, but each time he bent to quench his thirst, the water receded. There were boughs heavy with fruit over his head, but each time he tried to pluck them, the wind blew them out of reach.

Note: Something is “tantalizing” if it is desirable but unattainable.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
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