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What can I call a person or a thing that is very small yet capable of defeating big giants?

I need different words that can be connected closely to this meaning.

It can be related to success,war, or anything else.

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For popular reference,Bilbo Baggins might do. – rahul Mar 19 '14 at 17:33
Do you mean literal giants, or figurative ones? – Mooz Mar 20 '14 at 21:04
"big giants" is a taugologism (pleonasm) AFAIK... you seldom see *"small giants" IMHO. – vaxquis Mar 21 '14 at 14:14

15 Answers 15

David is often used in reference to David and Goliath.

Story here.

Edit based on comments: They are right. It is all about context. In many contexts you would have to explain that the person is a David trying to bring down a Goliath. I have though seen the term David used alone when there is a build-up. If you were talking about someone trying to take out giants and said, "He will act like David with his slingshot..." There are tons of ways to do this. Was not implying that just simply mentioning the name David is proper, although some people would still get the inference.

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Yes, yes it is. ;-) – David M Mar 19 '14 at 14:57
@DavidM - I knew you would love the answer. I take care of my delegates. – RyeɃreḁd Mar 19 '14 at 15:07
"Be careful, that guy is a real David." Who would say something like that? At least I've never heard it, I know the story and still it doesn't sound right. I would never guess what you meant. – Wesley Murch Mar 20 '14 at 14:47
As @WesleyMurch pointed out, you can't really just say "David" and expect people to understand. You have to mention Goliath to give the context. "He's a David versus a real Goliath", "He's David versus Goliath", etc. – Phil Perry Mar 20 '14 at 16:33
@PhilPerry - edited based on comments. – RyeɃreḁd Mar 21 '14 at 14:48


Typically means "a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest", but modern society almost always attaches the underlying concept that the underdog is capable of beating the giants, and is in fact cheered on to do so.

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I voted up most of the suggestions but this one stumps me. I guess people feel this meets the need but in AE underdog could mean someone who has a 49% chance of winning - so wouldn't suggest that someone with a 51% chance of winning is a giant. Then on the other side they could have a .0001% chance of winning, which implies they are going to get their ass beat almost every time. This has no meaning of beating a giant to me, it just means they are not favored. – RyeɃreḁd Mar 21 '14 at 14:51

Giant-killer is also used. It seems a bit on the nose, but it is used in that sense.

cf. Jack the Giant Killer.

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this works too especially around NCAA basketball time. – RyeɃreḁd Mar 19 '14 at 15:11
Or "X-killer" where X is something known to dominate its niche. For instance, lots of new cellphones are marketed as an "iPhone-killer". Lots of new games competing with World of Warcraft are referred to as a "WoW-killer". – T.E.D. Mar 19 '14 at 18:00
isn't that rather more usually "giant-slayer"? – PatrickT Mar 22 '14 at 10:46
@patrickT it's either. See the link. – David M Mar 22 '14 at 11:43

Small but mighty

Small but mighty
Small but mighty
When you're powerful and wise,
You can rise above any size

~ Source: http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Small_But_Mighty

There is a rhyming version also: "tiny but mighty"

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sounds like a euphemism for something else.... – RyeɃreḁd Mar 19 '14 at 15:24
what do you mean by something else? OP mentioned that it can be related to anything. And I think this covers them all. – ermanen Mar 19 '14 at 15:27
something else = men describing their penis. Well they could slay giant vaginas! – RyeɃreḁd Mar 19 '14 at 15:30
Well, that someTHING covers them ALL! :) – ermanen Mar 19 '14 at 15:33
I am going to vote this up because it makes me smile the more I think about it. Tiny but mighty is either very dirty or very disney-ish. And it isn't one word. It could be used though. But I would laugh. – RyeɃreḁd Mar 19 '14 at 15:36

Bantam. Bantams are small but aggressive chickens. When stringent recruiting or conscription requirements were relaxed during the First World War, smaller men were allowed to join up. They were sometimes grouped together into units called Bantam Battalions. There's an interesting wiki article on them

PS 2 of them won the VC, the highest gallantry decoration in the British & Commonwealth armies: Sgt Albert Mountain VC and Pte William Boynton Butler VC. Both men were 5'1" tall.

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You could label them a Pocket Hercules.

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where does this come from? – user57234 Mar 20 '14 at 23:14
Hercules is a legendary demigod, renowned for his strength; using "pocket" as a modifier indicates that he is small enough to carry around inside your pocket, which is pretty small. – Hellion Mar 21 '14 at 0:04

Mighty Mite.

Has been used for many years...

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I suggest some punctuation. I can't make heads or tails of this answer. – Cruncher Mar 19 '14 at 18:48
Do you have a source for this Mite? Perhaps you mean Mighty Mouse? – Patrick M Mar 19 '14 at 19:35
I dont think so, my guess mighty mouse was a take off on the other. Used in sports and politics more than 100 years. Example Miller 'Mighty Mite' Huggins brought in to help the Yankees. Because of this 1000's of products have that in their name. – conobs Mar 19 '14 at 19:43
Could you add a reference please? – terdon Mar 20 '14 at 4:19
The M422 was, interestingly, created by a group called "Bantam" which is also a possible synonym. – beth Mar 21 '14 at 16:37


A competitor, about whom little is known and who unexpectedly wins. It is same as UnderDog but still used differently.

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I've heard a small but powerful or aggressive person called a "firecracker."

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A "Horatio Alger hero" would seem to match your "success" case.

The Horatio Alger Hero: Ragged Dick

In Ragged Dick Alger made a homeless orphan into a hero who became the prototype for the hundreds of heroes Alger created in the next thirty years. The novel covers the hero’s transformation from a ragged, homeless boy of the streets to a respectable clerk with a salary of ten dollars per week. Dick’s fortunes improve because he follows advice, works hard to acquire an education, and takes advantage of every opportunity. He also has the essential prerequisite to success—good character. The narrator describes Dick:


His stories all were based on someone coming from improbably poor/low/hard circumstances, and rising to positions of greatness, against all the odds.

("The Secret of my Success" was a modern version of this narrative.)

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  1. small but terrible
  2. Unbelievable
  3. King David
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This answer could be more helpful if you tell us more about why you think these choices are a good fit for the question. – aedia λ Mar 21 '14 at 20:45

I would like to offer two different pop-culture words that work really well here too:

Rocky: Not only does he beat a giant every movie in the sense of sport but Rocky is a smaller boxer beating guys much bigger than him.

Usage - "Dude no way you are going to beat that guy. He is huge. Do you think you are Rocky?"

And on the complete opposite side of the word spectrum...

Cinderella: Just like the story Cinderella this would convey the small-time person or team that came out of no where to beat the powerful. Used in sports metaphors a lot. Used too much during NCAA tournament time.

Usage - "Wow. That high school only has 50 students in their senior class. If their basketball team wins the state tournament that would be a real Cinderella story.

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Two words, but appropriate...Chuck Norris

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And, under his beard there is no chin . . . only a fist! – David M Mar 19 '14 at 19:29
What would be the giant Chuck Norris defeats? That is, David : Goliath :: Chuck Norris : ? a) Chthulu, b) a massive asteroid hurtling toward Earth, or c) the speed of light in a foot race (Chuck Norris doesn't worry about causality; Chuck Norris causes causality) – iamnotmaynard Mar 20 '14 at 22:12

I've heard a person like that described as a "dynamo"

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A dynamo is someone who is full of energy. Not really someone who kills giants. – David M Mar 19 '14 at 19:30

"Virus" is too short an answer, so here's some fluff too.

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Rather than being cutesy, try explaining why your word fits the context that is given. – Kit Z. Fox Mar 20 '14 at 0:54
I'd say bacterium, but don't post it as an answer or you'd downvote it. Even if everyone here knows that bacteria can kill... giants. – Rotwang Mar 20 '14 at 17:24

protected by tchrist Jul 7 '14 at 0:00

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