white elephant

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White Elephant

An investment, especially in real estate, that is expensive, unprofitable, and difficult to sell. An example is a house that is overbuilt for its neighborhood. A white elephant is perhaps one of least desirable investments possible.

white elephant

Like the legendary white elephants of India, a property that is expensive to maintain, doesn't return any particular value, and can't realistically be sold to anyone else.

References in periodicals archive ?
A war was fought in the 16th century between Thailand and Myanmar -- then known as Siam and Burma, respectively -- over disputed ownership of four white elephants.
Well, Well, Well': Cross-Gendered Autobiography and the Manuscript of'Hills Like White Elephants.
I will then discuss the significance of white elephants in Buddhist cosmology and how European observers misinterpreted the importance of these creatures.
IF you want to know the meanings of the title phrases, buy the book, Red Herrings And White Elephants, by Albert Jack (John Blake, pounds 9.
The title describes the hills as being "like white elephants" rather than as "hills [that look] like white elephants.
It worked for Julia Roberts in Borneo and last night it was the turn of multimillionairess girl-next-goor Meg Ryan to head off to some far flung destination and examine one of the rarest animals on the planet - the white elephant.
In the meantime, warns Swindell, politicians chase white elephants in their downtowns.
Compared to such porcine lunacy, the artist who comes up with a genuine white elephant in preference to, say, a dead horse hanging from a roof, may actually be able to make Chris Smith do a re-think on the cultural value of white elephants.
With the price of oil and natural gas escalating, concerns about global warming rising and electricity markets deregulating, these onetime white elephants are starting to look more like cash cows.
So come on, let's make some good decisions that could draw the crowds into the city and make the most of what is good and maybe get rid of all the eyesores and white elephants that do nothing for us except bring bad publicity.
Because tapping the city's budget to turn three actual elephants into white elephants is unfair to residents.