paper tiger

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paper tiger

A nation or organization that gives the impression that it is threatening or powerful when, in reality, is not. Many people see North Korea as nothing more than a paper tiger, despite its threats against other countries. The new management team tries to command respect through lots of blustery speeches, but all of us workers just see it as a paper tiger.
See also: paper, tiger

a paper tiger

If you describe a person, country, or organization as a paper tiger, you mean that although they seem to be powerful, they do not really have any power. Unless the assembly has the power to fire the mayor, it will prove to be nothing but a paper tiger. She had shown the country to be a paper tiger, incapable of defending its territories. Note: This is an old Chinese expression which Chairman Mao applied to the United States in the 1950s.
See also: paper, tiger

a paper tiger

an apparently dangerous but actually ineffectual person or thing.
This expression became well known in the West from its use by Mao Zedong, the Chinese Communist leader. In an interview in 1946 , he expressed the view that ‘all reactionaries are paper tigers’.
1998 Oldie We fear that the Rail Regulator and the Consultative Committee are paper tigers and a waste of time.
See also: paper, tiger

a ˌpaper ˈtiger

a person or thing that is less strong, powerful, dangerous, etc. than they/it appears: He claimed that the enemies of his party were paper tigers and not to be feared.This is a translation of a Chinese expression that became well known when it was used by Mao Zedong.
See also: paper, tiger

paper tiger

Something that appears dangerous but is not. The phrase comes from a Chinese expression that means what it does in English—something or someone that is all bark but no bite. The phrase is often used in international diplomacy to describe a nation that makes threats but is unlikely to back them up with action.
See also: paper, tiger
References in periodicals archive ?
Now that the BFI bully boys have been shown to be paper tigers, city leaders have the chance to screw up their courage and start making this a better place to live for all the people.
The Open House presenter, who has just published her autobiography Paper Tigers, said she remembered the heartache of seeing her father's coffin going into wet ground.
That it takes the USA's premier financial paper to break a story of such paramount importance says it all about America's tame paper tigers.
But this is Hull and, despite this battlecry before every game, Steve Bruce's side have been paper Tigers at home.
And there are cases of adivasis being driven out of land earmarked for tigers and paper tigers -- only to find poachers, smugglers and tourists having a field day.
so what of the graft if they are paper tigers who are not worth a jot.
The sorry performance of those fallen financiers, sitting before MPs on the Treasury Select Committee, will reinforce in the public mind how much we were let down by these paper tigers.
But an unholy alliance of paper tigers has ganged up against him just because he chose not to speak to them.