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 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 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

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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Statistics for paper tiger

Last Updated

7 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Paper tiger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 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

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