a white elephant

Idiom Definition

Idiom Definition - a white elephant

"a white elephant"

something that costs a lot of money and is not very useful


Related words and phrases:

Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - a white elephant

Two friends are talking ...

Friend 1:  What do you think of this giant Olympic sports facility our tax dollars are funding?

Friend 2:  I think it is awesomely state-of-the-art but that it will become a white elephant.

Friend 1:  What do you mean?

Friend 2:  After the Olympics, there will simply not be enough demand for the facilities.  Very few people will use it and we will have this next-to-useless facility that we must continue spending our tax dollars on to maintain.

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - a white elephant

Two friends are talking ...

Friend 1:  Oh, I am in such trouble. The emperor has given me a white elephant that I must feed and care for.

Friend 2:  What an honor you have been given.

Friend 1:  Perhaps but I cannot put the sacred white elephant to work and it will cost me more than I have to feed and care for it.

a white elephant - Usage:


a white elephant - Gerund Form:

There is no gerund form for a white elephant.

a white elephant - Examples:

1)  This is a white elephant. Yet again, China has embarked on a prestige project.

2)  Radcliffe Library, as it was called until 1860, was something of a white elephant. It was completely independent of the Bodleian, readers were few in number, ...

3)  Fusion funding pretty much evaporated and nuclear power turned into a white elephant that nobody knew what to do with.

4)  ... Gulf state have objected to donating $1 billion from their CSR funds to a white elephant health project set up by the wife of the ruler.

5)  ... to gain from this project which if built could turn out to be a white elephant. Residents will suffer great disruption while the line is built and probably thereafter relentless ...

6)  Hopefully it will not become a white elephant like the Millennium dome-as has happened in other countries with facilities built for international games.

7)  Suddenly they have a white elephant stadium that they are desperate to sell off.

8)  The Odeon is quite a bit of a white elephant, but it's quite a beautiful building.

9)  We didn't want a white elephant so we consciously said let's design something which is demountable and can go from ...

10)  ... to punish a subordinate - grant them the incredible honour of giving them a white elephant and watch them starve as they are forced to pay for the ruinously expensive upkeep ...

11)  ... stolen the market but probably decimated the Nexus 7, turning it into a white elephant and making Google think twice about bringing out anything to compete with Apple.

12)  ... Secretary Jeremy Hunt not to waste millions of pounds on cancer treatment branded a white elephant by specialists.

13)  ... or overpay senior managers, or build a white elephant industrial estate etc.

14)  ... "bean counter" point of view, even the international space station is a white elephant.

15)  ... work in a skyscraper on that site. It's guaranteed to be a white elephant from the word go.

16)  ... no one would come -- and even some Christians claimed it would be a white elephant -- we praise the Lord that the interest in the Creation Museum is even growing ...

17)  not fit in a country that is not a monarchy. It is a white elephant. I spare you the conjecture about where such construction might belong. 

18)  So on one hand we have a vaporware product that could be a white elephant compared with another product in place and operating with over 20 years of operational experience ...

19)  ... in fact, the lawyer suggested that the whole property was simply a white elephant on Amory's hands. Nevertheless, even though it might not yield a cent ...

20)  You could forgive his decision to build what now appears to be a white elephant of a facility at AAMI Stadium and excuse the fact he misread the climate and ...