A White Elephant

“Elefante blanco

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  • Meaning

We use this expression to refer to any monument or building that costs a fortune but in the end it becomes useless whether it is because it does not represent what it was meant to or because it does nt work in the way it was intended to.

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  • Origin

In ancient Siam, there was a legend of a man, who belong to the court of a King, who once received a White elephant as a King. Poeple rumored the King had done so in order to affect him but the man felt so flattered because a White elephant was considered a deity, an honor, a prized possession to take well care of. Taking care of the elephant turned out to be so expensive that the man went from being rich into becoming penniless. This expression, which was first used in the 1800’s, refers to any construction or feat in which lots of money were invested but that in the end turned out to be of no use at all.

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  • Example

President Felipe Calderon ordered the construction of a magnificient monument to celebrate the second century of Mexico´s Independence and, at the same time, the first century of its Revolution War. This monument was intended to be one of the most spectacular sights in our city but in the end it turned out to be something nobody understood. The “Estela de Luz” was ridiculed by people who compared it with a long cookie and they called it “The Suavicrema”. The “Suavicrema” is one of Mexico´s most famous white elephants.

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About felipevelazquezmarines

I am an English teacher willing to share knowledge and experiences with all my students and friends.

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