Definition of tiger in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtīɡər/


Image of tiger
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.
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.
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.
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.

  • Tiger goes back via French and Latin to Greek tigris—the beast was formerly found in Turkey and the Middle East, and would have been known to Europeans in classical times. The tiger is a fierce and dangerous creature, and to have a tiger by the tail is to have embarked on a course of action which turns out to be unexpectedly difficult, but which you cannot easily abandon. Having a tiger in your tank means that you have energy and spirit. The expression originated as a 1960s advertising slogan for Esso petrol, ‘Put a tiger in your tank.’ Since the start of the 1980s the successful smaller economies of East Asia, especially those of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea, have been called tiger economies. The strength of Ireland during the 1990s led to its being dubbed the Celtic tiger. See also ride, wolf

Words that rhyme with tiger

Auriga, Eiger, liger, saiga, taiga

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ti·ger

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