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 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 Biden’s rivals are counting on the front-runner turning out to be a paper tiger, one whose aura of inevitability can be punctured with a loss in the opening primaries. Philip Elliott, Time, "Why Joe Biden's Slow-Paced Campaign Hasn't Slumped," 20 Sep. 2019 Don’t trust Texas A&M’s paper tiger running game Texas A&M’s rushing numbers look great on paper, but not so great upon inspection. Christopher Smith, al, "Trust Auburn’s defense as 4-point underdogs at Texas A&M," 17 Sep. 2019 Colon merely has created a simplistic, and thus impotent, paper tiger here; the political and pedagogical force of her work would be far greater if her villain had at least a touch of complexity. Chris Jones,, "'Tilikum' tells dark story of a captive orca at SeaWorld," 29 June 2018 That sends an important message to Moscow, who have for years discounted the US as a paper tiger. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "What do the US, UK and French airstrikes mean for Syria's war?," 15 Apr. 2018 The West, including Britain, has a sorry recent history of behaving like a paper tiger when confronted with Russian aggression, as Crimea and Ukraine show. The Economist, "Britain holds Russia to account over the Skripal affair," 15 Mar. 2018 But because ambition is so overwhelming — because self-interest is so powerful — these paper tigers were allowed to prey on women year after year. David French, National Review, "Harvey Weinstein, Fox News, and the Power of Self-Interest," 8 Oct. 2017

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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Time Traveler for paper tiger

Time Traveler

The first known use of paper tiger was in 1836

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Statistics for paper tiger

Last Updated

1 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Paper tiger.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on paper tiger

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with paper tiger

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to express in a more acceptable way

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