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White Elephant Idiom Meaning, Synonyms with Examples

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white elephant

The idiom “white elephant” refers to something that is expensive to maintain or possess, but it has little or no use or value. It often implies that the item or project is burdensome or impractical. This idiom is often used to describe investments, properties, or possessions that are more trouble than they are worth

Also Read: 150 Common: Difficult Idioms with Example

Usage with Examples

The idiom “white elephant” is often used to describe something that is costly to maintain or possess, but provides little or no value. Here are some examples:

  1. The old, historic mansion was a beautiful white elephant; it cost a fortune to maintain, but no one wanted to live in it.”
  2. The expensive sports car became a white elephant for him as he rarely drove it and the maintenance costs were exorbitant.”
  3. The massive, ornate chandelier in the ballroom was a real white elephant; it was impressive but impossible to clean or repair.”
  4. The company’s purchase of the state-of-the-art machinery turned out to be a white elephant, as it quickly became obsolete, and they couldn’t find a use for it.”

These examples illustrate situations where something valuable or impressive becomes burdensome due to its cost, impracticality, or lack of utility.

Also Read: Useful Idioms for IELTS Exams That Will Boost Your Score

Synonyms and Similar Words to White Elephant 

Here are some synonyms and similar words to “white elephant”:

  • Burden
  • Problem
  • Costly endeavor
  • Useless possession
  • Millstone
  • Deadweight
  • Drain on resources

White Elephant Idiom Quiz

That antique grandfather clock may be a family heirloom, but it’s become a white elephant in our small apartment; 

  • it takes up too much space.
  • Its beautiful. 
  • It can be easily maintained by the caretakers. 

Answer: it takes up too much space. 

Also Read: Off the cuff

This was all about white elephant idiom meaning with examples. Hope you understood the concept where it’s used. For more such blogs, follow Leverage Edu.

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