Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1800-1900
Origin: From the supposed practice of the King of Siam, who gave to people he did not like a white elephant, which cost a very large amount of money to keep

white elephant

noun
     
white elephant [countable]
something that is completely useless, although it may have cost a lot of money:
When the theatre first opened it was widely regarded as a white elephant.

Dictionary pictures of the day
Do you know what each of these is called?
What is the word for picture 1? What is the word for picture 2? What is the word for picture 3? What is the word for picture 4?
Click on any of the pictures above to find out what it is called.

Explore our topic dictionary