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Pink elephant vs White elephant

pink elephant

1. (usually in the phrase “see a pink elephant”) said of a visionary hallucination caused by over-indulgence in alcohol:

  • Ben had been extremely (to the pink elephant sighting stage) drunk after he had been forced to take command.

2. a problem that everyone knows well but no one talks about because it is embarrassing:

  • It’s like there’s a pink elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge. How long can you go before someone says something or does something?

white elephanta possession or piece of property that is useless or unwanted, especially one that is inconvenient or expensive to keep:

  • The automobile was a large Mercedes-Benz: I kept it a week or so but it was so heavy that it was a “white elephant” on country roads.

Cf.: white elephant sale—a sort of odds and ends sale on people’s front yard at bargain-basement prices:

  • A few weeks back I found some signed paintings at a white elephant sale. They were just $3 each…