Elephant in the room


Elephant in the room

The "elephant in the room" (also "elephant in the living room", "elephant in the parlor", "elephant in the corner", "elephant on the dinner table", "elephant in the kitchen", and "horse in the corner") is an English idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook; thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there might be concerning themselves with relatively small and even irrelevant matters, compared to the looming big one.

The term refers to a question, problem, solution, or controversial issue that is obvious, but which is ignored by a group of people, out of embarrassment or taboo. The idiom can imply a value judgment that the issue ought to be discussed openly, or it can simply be an acknowledgment that the issue is there and not going to go away by itself.

The term is often used to describe an issue that involves a social taboo, such as race or religion.

The idiom is commonly used in addiction recovery terminology to describe the reluctance of friends and family of an addicted person to discuss the person's problem, thus aiding the person's denial.

The idiom is also occasionally invoked as a "pink elephant", possibly in reference to alcohol abuse, or for no other reason than that a pink elephant would be more visible than a normal elephant.

Film

The title of Alan Clarke's 1989 short television film "Elephant" was a reference to this phrase. The "elephant in the room" in this case was The Troubles in Northern Ireland. In an attempt to illustrate the core of the problem, Clarke's film stripped away all dialogue and plot, and was essentially a series of unrelated shootings. [ [http://www.villagevoice.com/film/0436,lim,56529,20.html village voice > film > Scanners: Film by Dennis Lim ] ]

Gus Van Sant's 2003 film "Elephant", which is named after the Clarke film, places the idiom in the context of a Columbine-style high school shooting—although this was apparently inadvertent, as Van Sant apparently believed Clarke was referring to the fable of the blind men and an elephant, each perceiving a different object. [ [http://www.sover.net/~ozus/elephant.htm elephant ] ]

In the short animated film "Elephants Dream", the two main characters appear to exist in a vast machine. The elephant in the room is that the machine appears to be perceived solely by one character and may not actually exist.Fact|date=April 2008

Television

On the TV quiz show "QI", a feature of Series E was the "Elephant in the Room" bonus, in which the answer to one or more questions concerned an elephant.

Music

Fat Joe's 2008 album is titled "The Elephant in the Room".

Literature

Political columnist Ryan Sager entitled his book about the conflict between the Christian right and Libertarians for control of the United States' Republican Party "The Elephant in the Room," a play on both the English idiom and the Republicans' elephant symbol.

Prof. Randy Pausch started his "Last Lecture" by saying, "My father always said, 'if there is an elephant in the room, introduce it!'"

ee also

*Blind Men and an Elephant
*Elephant joke
*Elephant test
*The Emperor's New Clothes
*Taboo

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • elephant in the room — An elephant in the room is a problem that everyone knows very well but no one talks about because it is taboo, embarrassing, etc …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • elephant in the room —    A problem that no one wants to discuss, but is so obvious that it cannot be ignored, is called an elephant in the room.     Let s face it, his work is unsatisfactory. It s an elephant in the room that we need to discuss …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • elephant in the room — noun A problem or difficult issue that is very obvious, but is ignored for the convenience or comfort of those involved. There is an elephant in the room that nearly every politician and green campaigner is ignoring. It’s called population growth …   Wiktionary

  • Elephant in the room —   An elephant in the room is a problem that everyone knows very well but no one talks about because it is taboo, embarrassing, etc …   Dictionary of English idioms

  • elephant in the room — elephant in the living room, serious problem or disputable issue which is obviously present but is avoided and ignored because it is easier to do so or is convenient for other party …   English contemporary dictionary

  • The Elephant in the Room — The Elephant in the Room …   Википедия

  • The Elephant in the Room — Album par Fat Joe Sortie 11 mars 2008 18 mars 2008 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • The Elephant in the room — Album par Fat Joe Sortie 11 mars 2008 18 mars 2008 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • (the) elephant in the room — the ˌelephant in the ˈroom idiom a problem or question that everyone knows about but does not mention because it is easier not to discuss it • The elephant in the room was the money that had to be paid in bribes. • There s a big elephant in the… …   Useful english dictionary

  • The Elephant in the Room — For other uses, see The Elephant in the Room (disambiguation). The Elephant in the Room Studio album by Fat Joe …   Wikipedia


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