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1. A rare whitish or light-gray form of the Asian elephant, often considered sacred in parts of South and Southeast Asia.
2. A possession that provides few benefits and is an inconvenience or a financial burden to maintain.
[Sense 2, in reference to a story that when the kings of Siam wished to ruin an offending courtier, they would give him a white elephant, which the courtier then had to maintain at great expense.]
1. (Animals) a rare albino or pale grey variety of the Indian elephant, regarded as sacred in parts of S Asia
2. a possession that is unwanted by its owner
3. an elaborate venture, construction, etc, that proves useless
4. a rare or valuable possession the upkeep of which is very expensive
1. a possession unwanted by the owner but difficult to dispose of.
2. a possession entailing great expense out of proportion to its value to the owner.
3. an albino Indian 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]
white elephant- The name of this animal, which has an enormous appetite, has come to mean "useless, expensive possession"—or a possession that is more trouble than it is worth.
See also related terms for possession.
|Noun||1.||white elephant - a valuable possession whose upkeep is excessively expensive|
possession - anything owned or possessed
|2.||white elephant - albinic Indian elephant; rare and sometimes venerated in east Asia|