Definition of tiger in English:



  • 1A very large solitary cat with a yellow-brown coat striped with black, native to the forests of Asia but becoming increasingly rare.

    • ‘Weiler's survey found that the use of land mines to kill tigers, deer, wild cattle and other animals was widespread.’
    • ‘Cambodia was once home to herds of elephants, possibly thousands of tigers, wild cattle, leopards, bears, barking deer and an array of other animals.’
    • ‘The reason that this can happen is that both the lion and the tiger are 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.’
    • ‘The most ferocious biters among mammals aren't lions, tigers, or wolves, but meat-eating marsupials, a new study says.’
    • ‘In India, once considered the greatest stronghold for tigers, recent reports show the big cats disappearing altogether from some core reserve areas.’
    • ‘Because the tiger had become so rare, it had become an extremely valuable commodity in the black markets of Asia.’
    • ‘The big cats you find outside Africa include tiger, jaguar, leopard, cougar and Iberian lynx.’
    • ‘Lions, tigers, jaguars, giraffes, orang-utans and emus were some of the other creatures we saw.’
    • ‘Passing tigers, rhinos, tapirs, deer and other animals triggered the shutter by tripping infrared sensors.’
    • ‘Entering the forest officer's house, he found the skins of 3 Bengal tigers and 50 leopards.’
    • ‘Because the elephants aren't afraid of the tigers, the tigers aren't afraid of elephants.’
    • ‘The burgeoning trade in bones and body parts for use in folk medicines threatens tigers and other big cats.’
    • ‘In 1971, it banned the hunting of tigers, the first tiger range state to do so.’
    • ‘Boller estimates there may be as many as 400 to 500 lions, tigers, and other big cats in the Houston area alone.’
    • ‘They were unlike tigers and all other living cats, which are solitary hunters.’
    • ‘And in India, Bengal tigers laze in forest branches.’
    • ‘The forests supported tigers, elephants, wild boar, oxen, and deer, as well as wildfowl.’
    • ‘And yet another is a mountain refuge for vultures, tigers, and wild water buffalo.’
    • ‘Wild tigers mainly inhabit Asia, whereas the lion's current natural habitat is almost entirely in Africa.’
    performer, doer, worker, succeeder, high achiever, activist, man of action, woman of action, entrepreneur
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    1. 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’
      • ‘City fought like tigers all night and deserve all the credit.’
      • ‘The Malton pack fought like tigers against the heavier visiting eight and with the tackling in the backs of the highest order, West Park found difficulty in breaking out of their own half.’
      • ‘‘I have a son and four nephews involved, and they're young tigers that think out of the box,’ he said.’
      • ‘She growled, like a fierce tiger about to rip its pray to smithereens.’
      • ‘He tried to push me back, but I was fighting like a tiger.’
      • ‘Angela stepped up now, as blunt and determined as a pacing tiger.’
      • ‘On reflection it seems that the sands of time are beginning to catch up on the ageing stars, while some of the young tigers seem to be finding it hard to assume the mantle of leaders.’
      • ‘He said you had the courage of a lion, the strength of an elephant, and you fought like a ferocious tiger!’
      • ‘Here, the players grappled like bears and fought like tigers to stay on their feet.’
      • ‘He said he was still full of energy, though not like the young tiger of old, but still enough to fight.’
      • ‘But Liverpool fought like tigers and erupted in joy at the final whistle, with an all-English semi-final to look forward to.’
      • ‘At the beginning of last season the young Rheban tigers raced off into a great lead at the head of the first division.’
      • ‘This wasn't just a flash in the pan, they fought back like tigers to win this match.’
      • ‘Many of these young tigers are well-dressed and oblivious, yapping away into their mobile phones.’
      • ‘I would prefer to have the young tigers and tigresses volunteering at a level that made it unnecessary to have a draft.’
      • ‘Eve fought like a tiger, and finally freed herself of him, pushing him away from her.’
      • ‘But now the young tigers want to return to cap the final squeeze.’
      • ‘As it happens, Cato is a fierce tiger when it comes to advocating for oppressed tobacco firms.’
      • ‘My two year old was so tired she was falling down, but fought like a tiger not to have to go to bed.’
      • ‘Brandy was mad now, her eyes had turned to narrow slits and her ears were laid back on her head, she represented a fierce tiger and Millie trembled again.’
    2. 1.2A dynamic economy of one of the smaller East Asian countries, especially that of Singapore, Taiwan, or South Korea.
      • ‘‘For an emergent tiger economy, the Philippines is back once more to being the sick man of Asia,’ she said.’
      • ‘The Asian financial crisis of the nineties exposed the frailty of the Asian tigers ' economic model.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The rapid growth of Hong Kong, another of the East Asian tigers, wasn't accompanied by substantial investment in education.’
    3. 1.3Australian, NZ informal A person with an insatiable appetite for something.
      ‘I'm a tiger for a bargain’
      • ‘I must be a tiger for punishment, because I reread her speech.’
      energetic person
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  • 2Used in names of tiger moths and striped butterflies, e.g. scarlet tiger, plain tiger.

    • ‘Butterflies including the tiger swallowtail and mourning cloak rely on the flowers of the red maple for their survival and reproduction.’
    • ‘If you want tiger swallowtail butterflies, plant a willow tree.’
    • ‘And I can see monarchs, painted ladies, tiger swallowtails, and listen to the songbirds.’
  • 3

    another term for Tamil Tigers


  • have a tiger by the tail (also be riding a tiger)

    • Have embarked on a course of action which proves unexpectedly difficult but which cannot easily or safely be abandoned.

      ‘if you push me down again you might find that you have a tiger by the tail’
      ‘she was riding a tiger and there was no way of escape’
      • ‘While he's been lucky so far, Howard has a tiger by the tail.’
      • ‘On both occasions politicians, academics and bureaucrats found themselves riding a tiger of unanticipated national emotion.’
      • ‘They ride a tiger, and the retribution against them, were they to be overthrown, would be frightful.’
      • ‘Those seizing land from white farmers are riding a tiger they can't control.’
      • ‘But as I look back, you know, I had a tiger by the tail.’
      • ‘The Chinese are riding a tiger, and can't easily get off.’
      • ‘Is it that the administration rides a tiger and is afraid to dismount?’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Unfortunately, some of blogging's most influential promoters don't seem to fully understand that they have a tiger by the tail.’
      • ‘It is said that the trick to riding a tiger is finding a way to dismount.’


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