Definition of tiger in English:


Syllabification: ti·ger
Pronunciation: /ˈtīgər


  • 1A very large solitary cat with a yellow-brown coat striped with black, native to the forests of Asia but becoming increasingly rare.
    • Panthera tigris, family Felidae
    More example sentences
    • Boller estimates there may be as many as 400 to 500 lions, tigers, and other big cats in the Houston area alone.
    • The burgeoning trade in bones and body parts for use in folk medicines threatens tigers and other big cats.
    • Next door is the Night Safari where, between 7.30 pm and midnight, you can watch buffalo, deer, tigers and fishing cats as they come out to feed.
  • 1.1Used to refer to someone fierce, determined, or ambitious: despite his wound, he still fought like a tiger one of the sport’s young tigers
    More example sentences
    • As it happens, Cato is a fierce tiger when it comes to advocating for oppressed tobacco firms.
    • She growled, like a fierce tiger about to rip its pray to smithereens.
    • Angela stepped up now, as blunt and determined as a pacing tiger.
  • 1.2 (also tiger economy) A dynamic economy of one of the smaller eastern Asian countries, especially that of Singapore, Taiwan, or South Korea.
    More example sentences
    • ‘For an emergent tiger economy, the Philippines is back once more to being the sick man of Asia,’ she said.
    • As with the two most important East Asian tigers, South Korea and Taiwan, state direction was used to build up basic industries while massive repression kept living standards down.
    • When they were at the same stage of development as India is now, Asian tigers like South Korea, Taiwan, and China focused on elementary and secondary schools.


have a tiger by the tail

Have embarked on a course of action that proves unexpectedly difficult but that cannot easily or safely be abandoned.
More example sentences
  • The Chinese are riding a tiger, and can't easily get off.
  • On both occasions politicians, academics and bureaucrats found themselves riding a tiger of unanticipated national emotion.
  • If things work out and you become an institution, how long will it be before you're riding a tiger and can't get off?


Middle English: from Old French tigre, from Latin tigris, from Greek.

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