white elephant
noun Date: 15th century 1. an Indian elephant of a pale color that is sometimes venerated in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar 2. a. a property requiring much care and expense and yielding little profit b. an object no longer of value to its owner but of value to others c. something of little or no value

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • White elephant — White White (hw[imac]t), a. [Compar. {Whiter} (hw[imac]t [ e]r); superl. {Whitest}.] [OE. whit, AS. hw[imac]t; akin to OFries. and OS. hw[=i]t, D. wit, G. weiss, OHG. w[=i]z, hw[=i]z, Icel. hv[=i]tr, Sw. hvit, Dan. hvid, Goth. hweits, Lith.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • white elephant — ˌwhite ˈelephant noun [countable] something that is completely useless, even though it cost a lot of money: • The hotel is unfinished and structurally unsound a white elephant of epic proportions. * * * white elephant UK US noun [C] ► something… …   Financial and business terms

  • white elephant — {n. phr.} Unwanted property, such as real estate, that is hard to sell. * /That big house of theirs on the corner sure is a white elephant./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • white elephant — {n. phr.} Unwanted property, such as real estate, that is hard to sell. * /That big house of theirs on the corner sure is a white elephant./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • white elephant — n [Date: 1800 1900; Origin: From the supposed practice of the King of Siam, who gave to people he did not like a white elephant, which cost a very large amount of money to keep] something that is completely useless, although it may have cost a… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • white elephant — white elephants N COUNT (disapproval) If you describe something as a white elephant, you mean that it is a waste of money because it is completely useless. The pavilion has become a ₤14 million steel and glass white elephant …   English dictionary

  • White elephant — Something requiring much care and expense to maintain and yielding little profit, and often difficult to sell; any burdensome possession. [Slang] [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • white elephant — A white elephant is an expensive burden; something that costs far too much money to run, like the Millennium Dome in the UK …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • white elephant — white′ el′ephant n. 1) a possession unwanted by the owner but difficult to dispose of 2) a possession entailing great expense out of proportion to its value to the owner 3) mam an albino Indian elephant • Etymology: 1850–55; from the tale that… …   From formal English to slang

  • white elephant — n. 1. an albino elephant 2. something from which little profit or use is derived; esp., such a possession maintained at much expense ☆ 3. any object no longer desired by its owner, but of possible value to others …   English World dictionary

  • white elephant — noun count 1. ) an object that is useless and may have cost a lot of money 2. ) an important project that has failed very badly …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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