tiger, noun

tigre, tijgerShow more Also tigre, tijger, tyger.
EnglishShow more Transferred use of general English tiger a name for the Asian mammal Panthera tigris.
obs. except in historical contexts
1. [Influenced by Dutch tijger tiger, leopard.] The leopard, Panthera pardus of the Felidae; African tiger, see African adjective1 sense 1 b i; berg-tiger, see berg sense 1 b ii; Cape tiger, see Cape sense 2 a. Also attributive. See also Lion and Tyger. Cf. tiger-cat.
1655 E. Terry Voy. to E.-India (1777) 15This remotest part of Africa is very mountainous, over-run with wild beasts, as lions, tigers, wolves, and many other beasts of prey.
1688 G. Tachard Voy. to Siam II. 64They have there also Civit-cats, many Wildcats, Lyons and Tygers which have very pretty skins and especially huge great Apes that comes sometimes in Troops down from the Table-land into the Gardens of private Persons.
1696 J. Ovington Voy. to Suratt 283Tygers and Lions are very numerous, and so bold, that they range sometimes within Gun-shot of the Fort.
1731 G. Medley tr. of P. Kolben’s Present State of Cape of G.H. I. 64The Dutch officer..planted Out-Guards in the proper Places, for a Defence against the Lions, Tigers, and other fierce and ravenous Beasts, abounding in this territory.
1786 G. Forster tr. of A. Sparrman’s Voy. to Cape of G.H. I. 269The tigers, or more properly leopards, (for they seem rather to belong to that species) are not so easily extirpated.
1798 B. Stout Narr. of Loss of Ship ‘Hercules’ p.xxxiiiThey frequently encounter the lion, the rhinoceros, the hippopotamus, the buffalo, the hyaena, the panther or the tiger.
1801 W. Somerville Narr. of E. Cape Frontier (1979) 30The dress of both sexes is composed of bullock hides — and those of the Captains or people of rank, of Tiger skin.
1827 T. Philipps Scenes & Occurrences 18It was very large and the skin was beautifully marked. The Dutch call them tigers, but we were informed that there is no tiger in the Colony, and this certainly was a leopard.
1836 A.F. Gardiner Journey to Zoolu Country 123Some men bearing a dead leopard. There are three kinds of this species in the country, all included by the Dutch and the colonists under the general name of Tiger, although that animal is here unknown.
1841 B. Shaw Memorials 305The tigers of South Africa, differing but little from the leopards, are small when compared with the Royal Bengal tigers, but they are numerous, and exceedingly troublesome to the farmers.
1847 A Bengali Notes on Cape of G.H. 77The Cape people are continually talking about ‘Tigers’, but there are no such animals on the continent, and they mean leopards or panthers.
1851 J.F. Churchill Diary. (Killie Campbell Africana Library MS37) 21 Nov.Two of our fellow Colonists have died of wounds from the Panther or Tiger as it is called here.
1865 T. Shone Diary. 7 Oct.Henry and Meers went a Tigre hunting.
1872 C.A. Payton Diamond Diggings 82In the dusk, coming up a gully,..I almost stumbled on to a leopard, or ‘tiger’ as they call it here, which had apparently caught some small beast and was growling over it.
1883 M.A. Carey-Hobson Farm in Karoo 218One of the tiger traps had been set by George and Allan on their way up to the cattle.
1890 A. Martin Home Life 237Although the elephant and lion are now no longer found in the Karroo, there still remain a good number of leopards, or, as the colonists, in calm defiance of natural history, persist in calling them, ‘tigers’.
1898 The Jrnl 2 Apr. 2Two horrified hunters strolling on the Beach near the Nahoon River Mouth saw a huge tiger spring from the bush at a buck.
1900 O. Osborne In Land of Boers 43There is almost unlimited sport to be had in South Africa.., and even as far south as the fairly well populated Cape districts, leopards — miscalled tigers — zebras, quaggas, wild cats, baboons, and jackals are still to be found.
1911 Farmer’s Weekly 18 Oct. 193We can to-day produce more tiger and leopard skins in our homes than the whole of the rest of the Kuruman district. We have destroyed them on our farms.
1936 E. Rosenthal Old-Time Survivals 36Many a South African, following his grandfather’s custom, still calls a leopard a ‘tiger’.
1941 A.G. Bee Kalahari Camp Fires (1943) 21Leopards, which are called tigers in South Africa, did much harm to native stock.
1953 R. Campbell Mamba’s Precipice 131‘Well, what do you make of that?’ said Willem. ‘I tell you it’s a tiger for sure and not a ratel, nor an otter, nor an ant-bear.’ [Note] ‘Tiger’ is the common South African word for a leopard.
1970 G. Westwood Bright Wilderness 93There had been lions and elephant in these parts then, and the leopard that in the old days they had called ‘tygers’.
1989 B. Godbold Autobiography. 30Leopards were always referred to as ‘tigers’, the Dutch custom, hence ‘Tiger Flats’.
2. Elliptical for:
a. The tigerfish (sense 2 b), Pomadasys commersonnii.
1930 C.L. Biden Sea-Angling Fishes 241The fish resembles the white steenbras and the grunter (the Port Elizabeth ‘tiger’..) in frequenting shallows where freshets run into the sea.
1979 [see knorhaan sense 2].
b. The tigerfish (sense 1), Hydrocynus vittatus.
1971 Personality 5 Mar. 16The barbel, often too large to lift from the water, break the monotony and strain of the fighting tigers.
1973 E. Prov. Herald 1 Mar. 4Heaviest edible (rivers). D.O. Jones, tiger, 3,7kg.
The leopard, Panthera pardus of the Felidae; African tiger, see Africanadjective1 b i; berg-tiger, see berg1 b ii; Cape tiger, see Cape2 a. Also attributive.
The tigerfish (sense 2 b), Pomadasys commersonnii.
The tigerfish (sense 1), Hydrocynus vittatus.
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