paper tiger


Definition of paper tiger

: one that is outwardly powerful or dangerous but inwardly weak or ineffectual

Examples of paper tiger in a Sentence

The new laws are just paper tigers without any method of enforcement.
Recent Examples on the Web Withholding donations for a quarter or a year is a paper tiger, especially if the PAC usually only gives to candidates in election years. David Yanofsky, Quartz, "Which S&P 500 companies are changing their political donation policies?," 15 Jan. 2021 The Child/Grogu’s adorableness, and the show’s arch-villain to this point, Moff Gideon, was revealed to be a paper tiger in the season-two finale. Isaac Schorr, National Review, "The Mandalorian’s Second Season Gives Star Wars Fans Their Fix," 26 Dec. 2020 Despite its posturing, the Trump campaign’s vaunted legal strategy appears to have been a paper tiger. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The Trump Campaign’s Farcical Attempt to Steal an Election," 5 Nov. 2020 One high priest of Democratic establishment politics, Dan Pfeiffer, a former communications director for President Barack Obama's White House, contends that Trump is effectively a political paper tiger. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "After 2016 shock, Democrats scared of their own shadow in facing Trump," 29 Apr. 2020 That acclaim transformed the practice from a paper tiger into a darling of institutional clients. Mark Lamster, Dallas News, "A landmark Dallas theater designed by Frank Lloyd Wright will get an ambitious makeover," 25 Feb. 2020 Meanwhile, the Bucks — less than a week removed from owning an 18-game win streak — were cast as a paper tiger. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks vs. 76ers Part II is must-see TV as Milwaukee looks to avenge Christmas Day debacle," 5 Feb. 2020 But Clemson, 2-0 against the Buckeyes since the 2013 season, is no paper Tiger. cleveland, "Ohio State is no David heading into college football playoffs: Bill Livingston," 27 Dec. 2019 His decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, for example, raised the characterization of Trump as a paper tiger. Simon Denyer, Washington Post, "How Trump’s North Korea nuclear talks gambit came undone," 22 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paper tiger.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of paper tiger

1836, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of paper tiger was in 1836

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Cite this Entry

“Paper tiger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for paper tiger

paper tiger


English Language Learners Definition of paper tiger

: someone or something that appears powerful or dangerous but is not

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