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paper tiger

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noun
  1. a person, group, nation, or thing that has the appearance of strength or power but is actually weak or ineffectual.

Origin of paper tiger

First recorded in 1945–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for paper tiger

paper tiger

noun
  1. a nation, institution, etc, that appears powerful but is in fact weak or insignificant

Word Origin

C20: translation of a Chinese phrase first applied to the US
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

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