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Mar 26, 2010
This week's theme
Loan translations

This week's words
paper tiger
loose cannon
sacred cow
tenderfoot
dark horse

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

paper tiger

PRONUNCIATION:
(PAY-puhr TY-guhr)

MEANING:
One who is outwardly strong and powerful but is in fact powerless and ineffectual.

ETYMOLOGY:
Loan translation of Chinese zhi lao hu, from zhi (paper) + lao hu (tiger).
The term is often used to describe countries. In 1956, Chairman Mao of China applied it to the US. Later it was used in the Western press to refer to China and its economy.

USAGE:
"But will it be another Arab paper tiger? 'I don't think much can be accomplished by merely meeting at an annual conference and issuing a list of recommendations,' Abu Zeid agrees."
Hadia Mostafa; A River Runs Through It; Egypt Today (Cairo); Jul 12, 2004.

See more usage examples of paper tiger in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it. -James Albert Michener, novelist (1907-1997)

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