Definition of white elephant in English:
- The wave of ‘urban renewal’ in the 1950s and '60s gave us the devastated inner cities of today, and many projects become expensive, taxpayer-funded white elephants.
- Opponents say they will be hugely expensive white elephants which could cost taxpayers a fortune.
- Last month, Bradford Chamber of Commerce and Industry branded the idea of a Yorkshire assembly as an expensive white elephant.
From the story that the kings of Siam gave such animals as a gift to courtiers considered obnoxious, in order to ruin the recipient by the great expense incurred in maintaining the animal.
- British & World English dictionary
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