Santa Claus vs. Chinese “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ)-Tigress”

On any happy occasion such as Christmas Eve, if there is a “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ), tigress” in your party, then you have to be careful. The happy atmosphere might be ruined because of the presence of a “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ), tigress.”

Literally, “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ)” means female tiger. As we all know, the tiger is a very fierce animal. Female tigers, by nature, will fight with other tigers, bears and leopards to protect their cubs.

Even the male tigers can be defeated by them. As female tigers usually give people such a strong impression, in the Chinese language, people also call those women with a tough and spicy temper “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ).”

Usually, “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ)” refers to a very aggressive woman who often shows a strong will. This type of woman is very quick to anger, especially with her boyfriend or husband.

It is also a metaphor for a shrew whose talk and behavior may intimidate other people when they are infuriated.

Therefore, when mentioning “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ),” many people will feel their blood creep or may even tremble with fear.


Nàgè nǚrén shì yǒumíng de mǔ lǎohǔ,  nǐ yào xiǎoxīn!
那个  女人    是  有名       的  母  老虎, 你 要  小心!

That woman is a famous tigress and you should be careful!

Tom tài búxìng le!  Tā de qīzi  shì gè  mǔ lǎohǔ!
Tom 太 不幸    了!他 的 妻子 是  个   母  老虎!

Poor Tom! His wife is a tigress!

Bié zài jiào wǒ mǔ lǎohǔ le!
别  再  叫   我  母  老虎  了!

Stop calling me “tigress!”

Although, the “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ)” is fierce and tough, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have a conscience. What “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ)” shows is just a strong personality.

But this personality often does not match with a joyful atmosphere. If someone or something offends the “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ),” her spicy behavior may make others embarrassed or make the situation reach an impasse.

So serve the “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ) tigress” well in the party, we don’t want her to scare Santa Claus away.


1. What does “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ)” mean in: “Jack’s wife is a ‘母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ)’?”

A. a female tiger

B. a beautiful woman

C. a tough and spicy woman


2. Which of the following words is not a characteristic of a “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ)?”

A. aggressive

B. gentle

C. tough

HSK Test
General Chinese (Beginner Level)
General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

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