elephant in the room

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elephant in the room

a major problem or controversial issue that is present but is ignored or not discussed because it is uncomfortable to do so


1. Any of several very large herbivorous mammals of the family Elephantidae native to Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, having thick, almost hairless skin, a long, flexible, prehensile trunk, upper incisors forming long curved tusks of ivory, and, in the African species, large fan-shaped ears.
2. Any of various extinct animals of the family Elephantidae.
elephant in the room
A matter or problem that is obvious or of great importance but that is not discussed openly.

[Middle English elefaunt, from Old French elefant, from Latin elephantus, from Greek elephās, elephant-, ivory, elephant, probably of Afro-Asiatic origin; akin to Tawllemet (Berber language of Mali) eləw and Mokilko (Chadic language of central Chad) 'êlbi, elephant, and possibly also to Egyptian 3bw, elephant, ivory, and Oromo arba, elephant.]