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 Today, Russia looks like a paper tiger, albeit a brutally destructive one. Frida Ghitis, CNN, 19 May 2022 That means the Fed, long a paper tiger, will have to keep pushing rates higher until the cost of living finally backs down. Jason Zweig, WSJ, 13 May 2022 More on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Is the Russian military a paper tiger? James Nachtwey, The New Yorker, 2 May 2022 Perhaps worst of all from Putin's standpoint, Russia's military has been revealed to be something of a paper tiger, scarier in theory than in practice. Joel Mathis, The Week, 21 Mar. 2022 The crisis in Kazakhstan has turned the CSTO from what formerly looked like a paper tiger into a functioning tool of regional elite solidarity. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 Jan. 2022 The Pirates, with a 7-1 record highlighted by a road win over No. 4 Michigan, were no paper tiger. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 10 Dec. 2021 But at some point, talk without action threatens to recast the drive for judicial reform as a paper tiger, which might in turn embolden the right’s grand reactionary design. Simon Lazarus, The New Republic, 6 May 2021 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, 15 Jan. 2021 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near paper tiger


paper tiger

paper towel

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Cite this Entry

“Paper tiger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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