American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A rare, expensive possession that is a financial burden to maintain.
- n. Something of dubious or limited value.
- n. An article, ornament, or household utensil no longer wanted by its owner.
- n. An endeavor or venture that proves to be a conspicuous failure.
- n. A rare whitish or light-gray form of Asian elephant, often regarded with special veneration in regions of southeast Asia and India.
- n. An albino elephant.
- n. idiomatic An possession that is unwanted or is a financial burden; an unprofitable investment.
GNU Webster's 1913
- adj. (Zoöl.) see white elephant in the vocabulary.
- Slang Something requiring much care and expense to maintain and yielding little profit, and often difficult to sell; any burdensome possession.
- n. a valuable possession whose upkeep is excessively expensive
- n. albinic Indian elephant; rare and sometimes venerated in east Asia
- In Siam elephants were working animals. However, white (albino) elephants were considered sacred and therefore were not to be put to work. The owner was then left to feed the elephant but could get no work from it. It is said that the King of Siam used to make a present of a white elephant to courtiers he wanted to ruin. (Wiktionary)
“I remember as a boy how he brought his gospel to New York, and P.T. Barnum with Tom Thumb and the white elephant never made such a sensation.”
“It’s always been understood the doctor came in for a white elephant when he got Chippingwood.”
These user-created lists contain the word ‘white elephant’.
List title totally stolen from she. Right, the stock entry for this list should be a two-word phrase where one of the words denotes a colour; even better if the expression has some metaphoric value...
how white is used
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I'm looking for compounds or phrases where the character of an animal is essential to the meaning, yet the term is usable in general conversation.
Hello, and Welcome™! Come and visit our most diverse land of our Animalesque™ adventures. Here at Noah's Park™ we have Virtually All You'd Ever Want To See™. An experience that is related to ani...
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