Definitions for white elephant
This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word white elephant
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
a possession unwanted by the owner but difficult to dispose of.
a possession entailing great expense out of proportion to its value to the owner.
an albino Indian elephant.
Origin of white elephant:
1850–55; from the tale that the King of Siam would award a disagreeable courtier a white elephant, the upkeep of which would ruin the courtier
a valuable possession whose upkeep is excessively expensive
albinic Indian elephant; rare and sometimes venerated in east Asia
An albino elephant.
An ornament etc that is unwanted or is a financial burden; an unprofitable investment.
Origin: 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.
A white elephant is an idiom for a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth. The term derives from the story that the kings of Siam were accustomed to make a present of one of these animals to courtiers who had rendered themselves obnoxious, in order to ruin the recipient by the cost of its maintenance. In modern usage, it is an object, scheme, business venture, facility, etc., considered to be without use or value. Albino elephants exist in nature, usually being a reddish-brown or pink color.
Translations for white elephant
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary
a useless, unwanted possession.
- wit olifantAfrikaans
- غَرَض غَيْر مُفيد وكَثير التَّكاليفArabic
- безполезно притежаниеBulgarian
- inútil / presente sem utilidade / elefante brancoPortuguese (BR)
- zbytečná věcCzech
- lästiger BesitzGerman
- hvid elefantDanish
- δώρον άδωρονGreek
- elefante blanco, maulaSpanish
- nagu sangata kohverEstonian
- موقعیت ناخواستهFarsi
- objet superfluFrench
- פִּיל לָבָןHebrew
- बेकार, खर्चीलाHindi
- beskorisna, neželjena stvarCroatian
- egy nyűg (igen terjedelmes, haszontalan tárgy)Hungarian
- benda tak bergunaIndonesian
- gagnslítil eignIcelandic
- (oggetto superfluo)Italian
- 귀찮은 소유물Korean
- nereikalingas turtas/daiktasLithuanian
- nevajadzīgs/nederīgs īpašumsLatvian
- seperti gajah putih; sesuatu yang mahal tetapi tidak bergunaMalay
- unyttig (nips)gjenstandNorwegian
- grat, nieprzydatny prezentPolish
- موقعیت ناخواستهPersian
- نه غوښتلي موقعيتPashto
- obiect de prisosRomanian
- обременительное имуществоRussian
- príťaž, zbytočná vecSlovak
- nadležna posestSlovenian
- beskoristan posedSerbian
- onödig lyx, ekonomisk belastningSwedish
- bir işe yaramayan eşyaTurkish
- 沒有用或不想要的東西Chinese (Trad.)
- непотрібна річUkrainian
- قیمتی لیکن بےکار شےUrdu
- vật cồng kềnh lắm tiền mà không có ích gìVietnamese
- 无用的东西，累赘物Chinese (Simp.)
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"white elephant." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2014. Web. 26 Jul 2014. <http://www.definitions.net/definition/white elephant>.