white elephant was our Word of the Day on 02/19/2013. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
Recent Examples of white elephant from the Web
The free event kicks off at 7 p.m. and features food and drinks, plus games, comics and a white elephant gift exchange (guests interested in participating are asked to bring a gift valued at $20 or less).
Workman wheeled himself to the church hall, where a game of white elephant with the congregants awaited.
The goal of a white elephant party is usually to entertain rather than to gain, and Ted Larsen, the team’s starting left guard, made sure that was the case this holiday season.
Will these eye-catching projects prove to be white elephants, offering solutions for only a lucky few who can afford them?
No more white elephant venues that start to decay as soon as the Olympians leave town.
To relieve its debt crisis, Sri Lanka has put its white elephants up for sale.
China is, of course, big enough to handle a few white elephants.
The market's 55th year was held on the green on Sept. 9 and featured a selection of antiques and collectibles, crafts, white elephant items, great food, as well as information from various nonprofits.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'white elephant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
The real white elephant (the kind with a trunk) is a pale pachyderm that has long been an object of veneration in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar. Too revered to be a beast of burden, the white elephant earned a reputation as a burdensome beast, one that required constant care and feeding but never brought a single cent (or paisa or satang or pya) to its owner. One story has it that the kings of Siam (the old name for Thailand) gave white elephants as gifts to those they wished to ruin, hoping that the cost of maintaining the voracious but sacred mammal would drive its new owner to the poorhouse.
First Known Use of white elephant
WHITE ELEPHANT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of white elephant for English Language Learners
: something that requires a lot of care and money and that gives little profit or enjoyment
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up white elephant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).