tiger mother

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Alternative forms[edit]


Sense 2 popularized by the 2011 memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.[1]


tiger mother (plural tiger mothers)

  1. A woman who is fiercely protective of one or more people in her care. [from 20th c.]
    • 1907, Fremantle, Elizabeth, Comrades Two, William Heinemann, page 237:
      ... I spent all last night on my knees, beseeching the Great Physician to hear me and heal my boy. ... but the instinct of the tiger-mother is tearing my heart to pieces ....
    • When she was in her busy mood, domineering and protecting me, I used to think what a dolls' generalissimo she must have been in childhood. "And where you're concerned," she would say, "I'm a tiger-mother and a regular Fury. ..."
    • 2005, Hutchinson, Jane, “Be my baby”, in Sunday Telegraph Magazine:
      "My sister calls us 'tiger mothers', because we're so protective," she says.
    • For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:tiger mother.
  2. A mother who drives her child/children very hard to succeed in school or in extracurricular studies like learning a musical instrument. [from 21st c.]
    • 2005, J. G. Ballard, "Now parliament is just another hypermarket", New Statesman, 9 May 2005:
      I would like to see Oxford and Cambridge turned into graduate universities entirely devoted to research, which at a stroke would cool the ardour of the "tiger mothers" of Holland Park and Hampstead determined to set their three-year-olds on the path to Oxbridge, whatever the human cost.
    • 2011, Anne McElvoy, "Take care, children: China's tiger cubs are on your tail", London Evening Standard, 2 November 2011:
      If you have tiger mother tendencies, the very worst thing you can do is visit China. It will only increase your determination to squeeze some achievement out of your young.
    • 2012, Frank Bruni, "The Imperiled Promise of College", The New York Times, 28 April 2012:
      Tiger mothers and $125-an-hour tutors proliferate, and parents scrimp and struggle to pay up to $40,000 a year in tuition to private secondary schools that then put them on the spot for supplemental donations, lest the soccer field turn brown and the Latin club languish.
    • For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:tiger mother.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kerry Maxwell, "Tiger mother", BuzzWord from Macmillan Dictionary, 12 March 2012