paper tiger

noun

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.

See More

First Known Use of paper tiger

1836, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about paper tiger

Time Traveler for paper tiger

Time Traveler

The first known use of paper tiger was in 1836

See more words from the same year

Statistics for paper tiger

Cite this Entry

“Paper tiger.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/paper%20tiger. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for paper tiger

paper tiger

noun

English Language Learners Definition of paper tiger

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

Comments on paper tiger

What made you want to look up paper tiger? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!