Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to tiger: Tiger Woods
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.
tiger in (one's) tank
A lot of vigor, determination, and motivation. A reference to an advertising slogan of the oil company Esso: "Put a tiger in your tank." The company had a tiger in its tank in the late '90s, a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut in the industry, but a series of awful business decisions and the economic crash led it to bankruptcy in 2013. The manufacturers advertise the energy supplement as being able to put a tiger in your tank when you're feeling tired.
have (got) a tiger by the tail
To be involved with someone or something that is powerful and could become troublesome or threatening. Now that I have to work closely with the CEO on this project, I feel like I have a tiger by the tail.
catch a tiger by the tail
To be involved with someone or something that is powerful and could become troublesome or threatening. Now that I have to work closely with the CEO on this project, I feel like I've caught a tiger by the tail.
ride a tiger
To become or find oneself responsible for something risky, precarious, or unsafe to abandon; to do something that is safer to continue than it is to quit. It has now become obvious that our country has been riding a tiger with our military intervention in this region—it was foolish to get involved, but it would be catastrophic to leave now.
He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.
One engaging in a risky or dangerous endeavor may find it easier to continue with it rather than facing the consequences of attempting to quit or abandon it. It has now become obvious that our country has been riding a tiger with our military intervention in this region—he who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.
the lady or the tiger
An outcome or resolution to something that is unknowable or unsolvable. Sometimes hyphenated and used as a modifier before a noun. The issue of whether to overhaul the healthcare system is so massive and so convoluted that it has become something of the lady or the tiger for lawmakers. The film closes on a lady-or-the-tiger ending, with the audience never knowing whether the villain or the protagonist is killed.
a tiger by the tail
Something or some situation that is too risky, overwhelming, or unsafe to abandon; that which is safer to continue than to quit. It is becoming increasingly obvious that we have caught a tiger by the tail with our military intervention in this region—it was foolish to get involved, but it would be catastrophic to leave now. I wouldn't go down the road of high-risk investments like those—you might end up with a tiger by the tail.
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.
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]
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.
a paper tigeran 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.
have (or catch) a tiger by the tail= ride a tiger.
A similar difficulty confronts those who have a wolf by the ears (see wolf).
1979 Peter Driscoll Pangolin You're taking on an organization with reserves you know nothing about. How do you know you won't be catching a tiger by the tail?
ride a tigertake on a responsibility or embark on a course of action which subsequently cannot safely be abandoned.
The expression comes from the Chinese proverb ‘He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount’.
1940 Daily Progress (USA) I believe that Hitler is riding a tiger in trying to keep all Europe under control by sheer force.
a tiger in your tankenergy, spirit, or animation.
This expression originated as a 1960s advertising slogan for Esso petrol: ‘Put a tiger in your tank’.
a ˌpaper ˈtigera 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.
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
tiger by the tail, to have a
To take on something that turns out to be too formidable or difficult. This term, with its vivid image of manually catching a wild beast that rewards one with violent thrashing about (or worse), replaced the earlier catch a Tartar, used from 1663 to the late nineteenth century. Emma Lathen wrote, in Murder Without Icing (1972), “The Sloan Guaranty Trust . . . might well have a tiger by the tail,” alluding to an impossible investment.
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.