• WordNet 3.6
    • n Tantalus (Greek mythology) a wicked king and son of Zeus; condemned in Hades to stand in water that receded when he tried to drink and beneath fruit that receded when he reached for it
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Tantalus (Zoöl) A genus of wading birds comprising the wood ibises.
    • Tantalus A Phrygian king who was punished in the lower world by being placed in the midst of a lake whose waters reached to his chin but receded whenever he attempted to allay his thirst, while over his head hung branches laden with choice fruit which likewise receded whenever he stretched out his hand to grasp them.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n Tantalus [lowercase] A case containing decanters. It is locked so that the decanters are in plain sight, yet the contents cannot be removed without the owner's key.
    • n Tantalus The leading genus of Tantalinæ, now generally separated into two. The Old World form is Tantalus ibis, with several related species, of Africa, Asia, and the East Indies. The only American representative is T. loculator, the wood-ibis of the southern United States and southward. It is known in Arizona and southern California as the Colorado turkey (or water-turkey), from the Colorado river. (See wood-ibis.) The name has been erroneously applied to several different ibises which belong to another family—a misnomer due in part to an old error which identified T. ibis with the Egyptian ibis, Ibis religiosa.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • Tantalus a spirit-case that locks
    • n Tantalus tan′ta-lus the wood-ibis, a genus of birds of the stork family, quite distinct from the true ibises.
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L., from Gr. Ta`ntalos


In literature:

It was now to me as to Tantalus the crystal waters, never to be tasted.
"The War Trail" by Mayne Reid
Boundary unlocked his tantalus and took out a full decanter of whisky.
"Jack O' Judgment" by Edgar Wallace
Tantalus never longed for water more than we did.
"Stray Leaves from an Arctic Journal;" by Sherard Osborn
Help yourself to some wine, you'll find it in the tantalus.
"The Green Rust" by Edgar Wallace
For over five days Don Gregorio and Lantanas have been enduring agony great as ever tortured Tantalus.
"The Flag of Distress" by Mayne Reid
Niobe was the daughter of Tantalus, and was born on Mount Sipylus.
"A History of Art for Beginners and Students" by Clara Erskine Clement
I was in a situation somewhat similar to that of Tantalus.
"The Boy Tar" by Mayne Reid
Now each soul fears to prove Tantalus torment first.
"All About Coffee" by William H. Ukers
I am tortured like Tantalus.
"The Saracen: Land of the Infidel" by Robert Shea
I shall probably have to bear the pains of Tantalus three months longer.
"Erdgeist (Earth-Spirit)" by Frank Wedekind

In poetry:

("If you would learn the woes that vex
Poor TANTALUS, down there,
Pray borrow of Papa an ex-
Purgated LEMPRIERE.)
"The Two Ogres" by William Schwenck Gilbert
"Surrounded there by virtuous boys,
You'll suffer torture wus
Than that which constantly annoys
Disgraceful TANTALUS.
"The Two Ogres" by William Schwenck Gilbert
The Towers of Tantalus I saw
Above untrodden streets of Time;
The sunlight and the moonlight shone
Together, on great spars of rime.
"The Towers Of Tantalus" by Walter James Turner
No treasure hadst thou more amass'd
Than fame to Tantalus assign'd,
Would save thee from a tomb at last,
But thou must leave it all behind.
"From Menander " by William Cowper
These and such like a number will,
alleadge to witnes their distresse,
Some rolle vp stones against the hill,
with Sisiphus; some eke expresse,
That like to Tantalus they fare,
and some with Yxion doe compare.
"A dolefull Dumpe" by Humfrey Gifford
Poor Dorcas mourn'd week after week
A livelihood she had to seek:
That bliss was fled which should have lasted;
Her marriage prospects all were blasted.
Choice nuptial fruit before her placed,
Like Tantalus, but must not taste.
"The Wager" by William Hutton

In news:

I was lucky to catch a special broker's open for this new listing on Tantalus Drive recently, as the home will not be open to the public for any other showings.
Historic home on Tantalus .
If you know and love the Tantalus area, you can appreciate the fact that when the original owners honeymooned at this house in the early 1900s, they loved it so much that they stayed.

In science:

Tantalus crawling over the desert looking for a brown dwarf.
Astrophysics in 2005