These sample phrases are automatically selected from various online information sources to reflect the current use of the word «white elephant». The views expressed in the examples do not represent the views of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us your feedback. In the West, the term «white elephant,» which refers to an expensive load that doesn`t meet expectations, was first used in the 17th century and spread in the 19th century.  According to one source, he became popular after P. T. Barnum had the experience of an elephant named Tung Talung, whom he called the «Holy White Elephant of Burma.» After much effort and effort, Barnum finally acquired the animal from the King of Siam, only to find that his «white elephant» was actually dirty gray with a few pink spots.  White elephants are common in real estate, as shown by the following examples: The term is derived from the sacred white elephants kept by Southeast Asian monarchs in Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.  Owning a white elephant was (and still is considered in Thailand and Burma) as a sign that the monarch ruled with justice and power, and that the kingdom was blessed with peace and prosperity. The opulence expected of anyone who owned an animal of such stature was great. Monarchs often illustrated their possession of white elephants in their official titles (e.g., Hsinbyushin, lit. «Lord of the White Elephant» and third monarch of the Konbaung dynasty).  Since animals were considered sacred and laws protected them from work, a monarch`s gift of a white elephant was both a blessing and a curse.
It was a blessing because the beast was sacred and a sign of favor from the monarch, and a curse because the recipient now had an expensive animal that he could not give away and not make much practical use. A white elephant is something whose maintenance costs do not match its usefulness or value. From an investment perspective, the term refers to an asset, property or business that is so expensive to operate and maintain that it is extremely difficult to make a profit. The true white elephant (the species with a trunk) is a pale pachyderm that has long been revered in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar. Too revered to be a beast of burden, the white elephant gained a reputation as an annoying animal – one that needed constant care and feeding, but never brought a single penny (or paisa or satang or pya) to its owner. One story tells that the kings of Siam (Thailand`s ancient name) gave white elephants as gifts to those who wanted to ruin them, hoping that the cost of preserving the voracious but sacred mammal would lead its new owner into the house of the poor. Some of the best examples of white elephants are the Empire State Building, the Ryugyong Hotel, and the Sprint Center. The Empire State Building took over 2 decades to make a profit after completion. The building never achieved the purpose for which it was built, which was to be an office building. In 2006, the rent for the building per square foot was $37, which was lower than the average rental cost in Midtown, New York.
However, the vacancy rate appeared to be 18%. Another example is the Sprint Center, which Kansas City owned. It was launched in 2007, with the very first event being the Elton Johns concert. However, the National Basketball Association or the National Hockey League was not part of it. And for the next 10 years, none of the sports teams agreed to be part of it. The cost of the Sprint Center was $309 million. The latest example is the Ryugyong Hotel, which is expected to have 5 revolving restaurants and over 3,000 luxurious hotel rooms. With a total of 105 floors, this hotel is the tallest in North Korea. Construction of this hotel began in 1987. But in 1992, construction had to be hampered due to insufficient funds.
After a significant gap, construction resumed in 2008. In 2012, the hotel is expected to have a grand departure on the occasion of the centenary of Kim II-Sung`s birthday. However, this did not go as planned and the construction of the hotel was not yet completed in 2017. This delay in completion makes it uncertain whether the building will be one of the tallest in the world. The white elephant refers to an asset or property that is quite expensive to maintain in relation to its usefulness or productivity. The property or asset incurs high maintenance costs and rarely results in profitable operations. The term comes from customs of Thai origin, where white elephants of a rare breed were part of the gifts to the monarch. Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for white elephant The term has also been applied to obsolete or underperforming military projects such as the United States. The Navy`s Alaska-class cruiser.
  In Austria, the term «white elephant» refers to workers who have little or no use but cannot be made redundant.  [Circular reference] Over the years, the term white elephant has also been associated with various government-funded construction projects. Governments strive to generate rapid economic growth by investing a lot of money in subsidized construction and infrastructure projects. White elephants also tend to be illiquid assets, meaning they cannot be easily or quickly exchanged or sold for cash without the seller suffering a significant loss. Companies can invest money in tangible assets (PP&E) to use these assets to improve their financial results in the future. However, when economic conditions change, these assets can become white elephants. Suppose a company builds a plant to meet the expected demand for its new product line. If the product doesn`t sell, this new factory becomes an expensive property that doesn`t help the company generate enough revenue to cover maintenance costs. The term white elephant comes from Asia. The white elephant is an icon whose roots go back to Siam, now commonly known as Thailand.
These rare animals were considered sacred in ancient times and were automatically offered to the reigning monarch. The terms «white elephant» and «gift from a white elephant» became common in the mid-nineteenth century.  The term was associated with «white elephant trades» and «white elephant sales» in the early twentieth century.  Many church bazaars held «white elephant sales» where donors could unload unwanted bells and whistles to take advantage of the phenomenon that «one person`s garbage is another`s treasure,» and the term continued to be used in this context.  In the United States, funding for these projects sometimes takes the form of controversial allocations, which relate to spending provisions incorporated into legislation that provide money for a project favored by a particular politician or official. Critics of these white elephant projects point out that they are often poorly designed, poorly planned and a waste of taxpayers` money. A white elephant is a heavy possession. When applied to investments, it can be used to describe anything that is expensive to maintain, unprofitable, and impossible to sell. In other words, a white elephant is a name given to unwanted investments that cause more trouble than they are worth.
A white elephant is a property that its owner cannot dispose of and whose costs, especially those of maintenance, are disproportionate to its usefulness. In modern language, it is a metaphor used to describe an object, construction project, schematic, business, facility, etc. that is considered expensive, but has no equivalent utility or value in relation to its capital (acquisition) and/or operating costs (maintenance).  The story goes that the monarch offered the white elephant either as a gift of luck or misfortune. If he liked the recipient, he would give land with the elephant to pay the cost of the elephant. If He didn`t love you, He wouldn`t lock down any land or turn the gift into a chasm. In a financial context, the term white elephant is associated with an unprofitable or unprofitable business or business. Operating costs are high, maintenance and repair of assets are high, and there are no benefits to the owner. The assets of the company can be quite large and it is difficult to find an applicant who sells and withdraws investments.
The Empire State Building is an example of a property that initially seemed destined to remain a white elephant, but eventually became a source of positive cash flow and growth. The property only became profitable in the 1950s, more than 20 years after its completion. The building was built against the backdrop of the Great Depression and struggled to become an office building, although it was intended for that purpose. White elephants can become a burden on the investor, especially if their realizable value decreases beyond the cost of investment. The investment can be made by the government in the expansion of highways, smart city projects or other infrastructure projects. At the level of an ordinary man, investments can be securities, term deposits, real estate, etc. The white elephant often appears in an inflationary environment consisting of asset price bubbles. The prices of various assets such as stocks, gold, and real estate are quite high. Loans or debts for different assets and investments can be the same. The environment is high risk and high return. In such a scenario, high levels of debt or debt can lead to defaults and falling prices, turning many assets into white elephants. The white elephant refers to a symbol with roots in Thailand, formerly known as Siam.
As these animals were less numerous, the reigning monarch received them as a gift. This is the reason why the national flag of Thailand has a white elephant on the red surface. It is believed that the monarch considered the white elephant to be a bringer of good luck or bad luck.