White Elephant

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A useless object, an expensive but useless possession


  • There is an old saying in ancient Siam, now known as Thailand, that a king gave white elephant as a gift to someone he didn’t like. The white elephant are very rare and are considered priceless but they are not used for any work and require a fortune to feed them. The courier who received the gift in well wish was unable to get rid of the elephant as it was a gift but the cost of the elephant ruined that person. The expression originated in the English language in the 19th century and represents something that is very expensive but useless for the owner.

To decorate the house, you must sell all those white elephants.

Submitted on February 25, 2019

Additional definitions for 'White Elephant':

white elephantAn albino elephant.
white elephantAn ornament etc that is unwanted or is a financial burden; an unprofitable investment.
See them all »


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How to pronounce this phrase?

  1. Alex
    US English

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"White Elephant." Phrases.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 25 Feb. 2020. <https://www.phrases.com/phrase/white-elephant_45134>.

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