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Elephant Idioms in English

March 7, 2024 English Comments Off

Welcome to our blog post on “Elephant Idioms in English”! Elephants are not just majestic creatures that roam the wild; they also hold a significant place in the English language through various idioms and phrases. In this post, we will explore some of the most popular elephant idioms in English, including the widely used “elephant in the room” phrase meaning, and provide examples to help you understand their usage in everyday conversation.

From the intriguing “white elephant” idioms in English to the profound “elephant proverbs” and “Swahili idioms and proverbs,” we’ll dive into the fascinating world of language and culture. We’ll also touch upon some “cute elephant sayings” that are sure to bring a smile to your face.

Whether you’re a language enthusiast or simply curious about the “elephant in the room” meaning and sentence usage, this post is designed to be easily understandable and engaging.

So, let’s embark on this linguistic safari and uncover the rich tapestry of “Elephant Idioms in English” together!

1. An Elephant in the Room

Meaning: This phrase means there’s a big issue that everyone knows about but no one wants to talk about.

Explanation: It’s like having a huge elephant in a room that is impossible to ignore, yet everyone tries not to see it. This idiom is often used in situations where discussing the problem is avoided because it might be uncomfortable.

Example Sentences:

  • “At the family dinner, the fact that nobody had health insurance was the elephant in the room.”
  • “During the loan discussion, everyone avoided talking about the father’s debt.”
  • “The need for a new mortgage was the elephant in the room during the family meeting.”

2. As Big as an Elephant

Meaning: Something that’s really big or huge.

Explanation: This expression is used to describe something very large, just like an elephant is among the biggest animals on land. It can be used for physical size or to describe the magnitude of a situation or problem.

Example Sentences:

  • “The amount of paperwork for the insurance claim was as big as an elephant.”
  • “Our house loan feels as big as an elephant when I think about paying it off.”
  • “The attorney had a bookcase of case files as big as an elephant.”

3. Elephant’s Graveyard

Meaning: A place where old or obsolete things are left or stored.

Explanation: Originally a myth about where old elephants would go to die alone, this phrase now metaphorically describes a place where outdated or no longer used items accumulate, often forgotten.

Example Sentences:

  • “The old office building became an elephant’s graveyard for outdated computers.”
  • “His garage is an elephant’s graveyard for all his old DIY project materials.”
  • “The storage room at the school is like an elephant’s graveyard for old textbooks.”

4. Elephant in the Corner

Meaning: A big issue just like “an elephant in the room” but even more ignored.

Explanation: This is similar to having an elephant in the room but in this case, the issue is so blatantly ignored it’s as if it’s hiding in plain sight, in the corner.

Example Sentences:

  • “Nobody talks about the electricity bill going up every month. It’s the elephant in the corner.”
  • “The mistake in the software code was the elephant in the corner during the review meeting.”
  • “Needing a recovery plan was the elephant in the corner at the business conference.”

5. Elephant Memory

Meaning: Someone who remembers everything.

Explanation: Just like elephants are said to never forget, this phrase is used for someone who has a very good memory and is able to recall information after a long time.

Example Sentences:

  • “She has an elephant memory for all the credit card numbers.”
  • “The lawyer remembered every detail of the case, truly an elephant memory.”
  • “He can recall every client’s name; he has an elephant memory.”

6. Have a Memory like an Elephant

Meaning: To remember things for a very long time.

Explanation: This is another way of saying someone has a great memory, emphasizing the ability to remember even minor details for years.

Example Sentences:

  • “My teacher can remember every student’s grade. She has a memory like an elephant.”
  • “He never forgets a birthday; he has a memory like an elephant.”
  • “She remembers all the loan interest rates; truly has a memory like an elephant.”

7. Like an Elephant in a China Shop

Meaning: Being clumsy or not careful in sensitive situations.

Explanation: This phrase describes someone who is awkward and tends to break things or make situations worse because they are not cautious.

Example Sentences:

  • “Discussing mortgage rates without preparation is like an elephant in a china shop.”
  • “Bringing up donation needs at the wrong time is like an elephant in a china shop.”
  • “Talking loudly about personal treatment options in public is like an elephant in a china shop.”

8. The Elephant’s Child

Meaning: Being extremely curious.

Explanation: Inspired by Kipling’s story, this phrase describes someone always asking questions and wanting to know more about everything.

Example Sentences:

  • “He’s like the elephant’s child, always asking how hosting servers work.”
  • “She’s the elephant’s child of the class, curious about every new software.”
  • “Their child, always wondering about different treatments, is like the elephant’s child.”

9. The White Elephant

Meaning: Something expensive and difficult to maintain.

Explanation: This phrase is used for something that costs a lot to keep up and might not be very useful, similar to how owning a rare white elephant is seen as burdensome due to its care requirements.

Example Sentences:

  • “The old mansion turned into a white elephant, with its huge heating bills.”
  • “Their luxury car is a white elephant, always needing expensive repairs.”
  • “This high-maintenance garden is becoming a white elephant.”

10. To See the Elephant

Meaning: Experiencing something significant but at a high cost.

Explanation: This phrase often refers to gaining experience through a significant event or challenge that has a considerable cost or impact on someone’s life.

Example Sentences:

  • “Starting a new business is like going to see the elephant; it’s tough but rewarding.”
  • “Traveling abroad for my degree was my moment of seeing the elephant.”
  • “The conference call that sealed the deal was like seeing the elephant for the team.”

11. White Elephant Sale

Meaning: A sale of unwanted items for charity.

Explanation: This refers to events where people sell items they no longer need, often to raise money for a good cause, similar to getting rid of a burdensome white elephant.

Example Sentences:

  • “We’re organizing a white elephant sale to donate to the school.”
  • “I found an old painting at a white elephant sale.”
  • “They’re donating proceeds from the white elephant sale to the local hospital.”

12. Elephant’s Ears

Meaning: Something very large or easy to notice.

Explanation: Refers to things that are big and hard to ignore, just like an elephant’s large ears.

Example Sentences:

  • “The new billboard is like elephant’s ears; you can’t miss it.”
  • “Her hat at the wedding was as noticeable as elephant’s ears.”
  • “The mistake in the report was like elephant’s ears, obvious to everyone.”

This approach keeps the explanations simple and the example sentences short, ensuring that the information is easy to understand and engaging for readers.

13. Pack the Trunk like an Elephant’s

Meaning: Packing a lot into a small space.

Explanation: This phrase isn’t commonly used but can be understood to mean filling up a space with as much as possible, similar to how an elephant packs a lot into its trunk.

Example Sentences:

  • “We packed the car’s trunk like an elephant’s for the road trip.”
  • “Her suitcase was packed like an elephant’s trunk, full of clothes for the holiday.”
  • “The storage room is packed like an elephant’s trunk with all the old files.”

14. Elephants Can Remember

Meaning: The ability to recall old memories.

Explanation: This phrase suggests that, like elephants, people can remember things from the far past, emphasizing the capacity for long-term memory.

Example Sentences:

  • “Even after years, he remembered his first sale; elephants can remember.”
  • “She recalled where she kept the old insurance policy, proving elephants can remember.”
  • “Our grandfather tells stories from his youth like elephants can remember.”

15. An Elephant Never Forgets

Meaning: Remembering things forever.

Explanation: Similar to “Elephants Can Remember,” this idiom highlights the long memory span, suggesting someone remembers everything always.

Example Sentences:

  • “Ask her about the old neighborhood; an elephant never forgets.”
  • “He still knows his first car’s license plate; an elephant never forgets.”
  • “She remembers every student’s name; truly, an elephant never forgets.”

16. Elephant Parade

Meaning: A large, noticeable movement or group.

Explanation: This phrase can describe any large group that attracts attention, much like a parade of elephants would.

Example Sentences:

  • “The new product launch was like an elephant parade, with huge public interest.”
  • “The marathon runners looked like an elephant parade through the city streets.”
  • “Their family reunion is like an elephant parade, loud and full of joy.”

17. To Have an Elephant’s Skin

Meaning: To not be easily upset by criticism.

Explanation: This idiom compares a person’s resilience to the thick skin of an elephant, implying they can handle a lot without getting hurt.

Example Sentences:

  • “You need an elephant’s skin to handle the harsh reviews.”
  • “Despite the feedback, she showed she had an elephant’s skin.”
  • “He took the criticism well, proving he has an elephant’s skin.”

18. To Make an Elephant Out of a Mosquito

Meaning: Making a big deal out of a small problem.

Explanation: This phrase suggests exaggerating a minor issue, making it seem much larger than it actually is.

Example Sentences:

  • “Worrying about the slight delay is like making an elephant out of a mosquito.”
  • “She made an elephant out of a mosquito over a tiny scratch on the car.”
  • “The disagreement was minor, but they made an elephant out of a mosquito.”

19. The Blind Men and the Elephant

Meaning: A story that shows how people can understand the same thing in different ways.

Explanation: This phrase comes from a parable about blind men touching different parts of an elephant and each concluding it’s something else, highlighting how subjective experiences can be.

Example Sentences:

  • “Debating the project’s direction felt like the blind men and the elephant.”
  • “Each expert had a different opinion, like the blind men and the elephant.”
  • “Understanding the new policy was like the blind men and the elephant.”

20. To Throw an Elephant

Meaning: Making a big, often disruptive, impact.

Explanation: Though not a common phrase, this could be interpreted as doing something that causes a large and possibly unexpected effect.

Example Sentences:

  • “Launching the new software was like throwing an elephant into the market.”
  • “His surprise announcement was like throwing an elephant into the meeting.”
  • “Changing the logo was like throwing an elephant into the branding strategy.”

21. Elephant’s Pace

Meaning: Moving slowly but surely.

Explanation: This phrase describes a slow, deliberate approach to doing something, much like the steady walk of an elephant.

Example Sentences:

  • “We’re making progress at an elephant’s pace, but it’s steady.”
  • “Saving for the house is going at an elephant’s pace.”
  • “The project is advancing at an elephant’s pace, but we’ll get there.”

22. To Buy an Elephant

Meaning: Acquiring something that is more trouble than it’s worth.

Explanation: This idiom refers to purchasing something that ends up causing more problems or expenses than anticipated.

Example Sentences:

  • “That old car turned out to be like buying an elephant.”
  • “Investing in that property was like buying an elephant.”
  • “Getting the cheapest hosting plan was like buying an elephant; it couldn’t handle the traffic.”

23. Riding the Elephant

Meaning: Taking on a big challenge.

Explanation: This phrase suggests tackling a large or difficult task, much like the challenge of riding a large and powerful elephant.

Example Sentences:

  • “Starting my own business felt like riding the elephant.”
  • “Taking the advanced degree course is like riding the elephant.”
  • “Upgrading all the computer systems at once is like riding the elephant.”

24. To be the Elephant in the War Room

Meaning: A significant but unaddressed issue in strategic discussions.

Explanation: This phrase suggests a critical issue that is overlooked or ignored in planning or strategy meetings.

Example Sentences:

  • “The budget shortfall was the elephant in the war room during planning.”
  • “The outdated software system was the elephant in the war room at the tech meeting.”
  • “Ignoring market trends was the elephant in the war room for the product team.”

25. Elephant Stampede

Meaning: A sudden rush or overwhelming movement.

Explanation: This phrase is used to describe a situation where there is a rapid, often chaotic, action or movement, similar to the powerful and unstoppable charge of a stampede of elephants.

Example Sentences:

  • “The sale caused an elephant stampede of customers.”
  • “News of the merger set off an elephant stampede in the stock market.”
  • “The announcement of the concert tickets caused an elephant stampede online.”

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