White-elephant meaning

The definition of a white elephant is a possession that is very expensive to maintain, or an article that is no longer wanted by the owner.

A family home that you feel you have to keep but that is very expensive to maintain is an example of a white elephant.

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A possession that provides few benefits and is an inconvenience or a financial burden to maintain.
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A rare whitish or light-gray form of the Asian elephant, often considered sacred in parts of South and Southeast Asia.
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Something from which little profit or use is derived; esp., such a possession maintained at much expense.
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Any object no longer desired by its owner, but of possible value to others.
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An albino elephant.
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(idiomatic) A possession that is unwanted or is a financial burden; an unprofitable investment.
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An albino elephant.
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Origin of white-elephant

  • Sense 2, in reference to a story that when the kings of Siam wished to ruin an offending courtier, they would give him a white elephant, which the courtier then had to maintain at great expense

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • 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.

    From Wiktionary