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white elephant

Syllabification: white el·e·phant

Definition of white elephant in English:

noun

A possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of.
Example sentences
  • 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.

Origin

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.

Definition of white elephant in:

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