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business jargon A team of highly skilled professionals who are assembled to investigate, test, or try to exploit the potential weaknesses of a company's or organization's security system. The tech giant has begun recruiting coders and hackers fresh out of college into tiger teams to stress test vulnerabilities in their new operating system.
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.
have a tiger by the tailand have got a tiger by the tail; have a bear by the tail
Fig. to have become associated with something powerful and potentially dangerous; to have a very difficult problem to solve. You have a tiger by the tail. You bit off more than you could chew. You've had a bear by the tail ever since you agreed to finish that big project.
He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.
Prov. Sometimes it is more dangerous to stop doing a dangerous thing than it is to continue doing it. Jill: You shouldn't take out another loan. You're already too far in debt. Jane: If I don't take out a loan, I can't make the payments on the loans I already have. You know how it is—she who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.
a paper tiger
a country or organization that seems powerful but is not Will the United Nations be able to make any difference, or is it just a paper tiger?
leopard cannot change its spots, a
Also, the tiger cannot change its stripes. One can't change one's essential nature. For example, He's a conservative, no matter what he says; the leopard cannot change its spots. These metaphoric expressions both originated in an ancient Greek proverb that appears in the Bible (Jeremiah 13:23): "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" It was first recorded in English in 1546.
tiger by the tail
Something too difficult to manage or cope with, as in You know nothing about the commodities market; you'll end up catching a tiger by the tail . This colorful metaphor conjures up the image of grabbing a powerful but fierce animal by the tail, only to have it turn on one. [Second half of 1900s]
have a tiger by the tail
tv. to have become associated with something powerful and potentially dangerous. (Have got can replace have.) You have a tiger by the tail. You bit off more than you could chew.
n. a strong and virile man. The guy’s a tiger. Watch out for him.
tiger sweatand tiger juice and tiger(‘s) milk
n. bad liquor; strong liquor; any beer or liquor. (Older.) This tiger milk would kill a tiger of any age or disposition. Give me some of that tiger juice, will ya?
See also: milk
the lady or the tiger
A problem with no solution. Frank R. Stockton's short story titled “The Lady, or the tiger” is set in an ancient country whose king held an trial by ordeal. Behind one door was a beautiful woman; behind a second door was a ferocious tiger. Those on trial were forced to open one or the other door without knowing what was on the other side. To choose the one behind which was the woman meant the defendant was innocent, and he was obliged to marry the woman. However, to select the door behind which was the tiger was a sign of guilt, and the defendant would be eaten alive. The king did not approve of his daughter's choice of suitor, who was forced to take the test. The princess knew what was behind both doors, and when her suitor looked to her for a hint, she was faced with a predicament: to indicate the maiden door would mean that her beloved would marry another; to point to the tiger door meant he would be killed. What did the princess do? We'll never know, because Stockton ended the story just as the young man was about to open a door. All we were left with was a terrific phrase to describe any dilemma for which there is no satisfactory solution.
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.
ride a tiger
To find yourself in a precarious situation. The phrase comes from “He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.” Which is to say, once you find yourself in a dangerous circumstance, getting out of it can be even more potentially hazardous, whether to your health or your career.