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white elephant
Moby Dick
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white elephant -- as in: white elephant gift exchange
Used In
Moby Dick
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  • …some special virtue of its own, as in marbles, japonicas, and pearls; and though various nations have in some way recognised a certain royal preeminence in this hue; even the barbaric, grand old kings of Pegu placing the title "Lord of the White Elephants" above all their other magniloquent ascriptions of dominion; and the modern kings of Siam unfurling the same snow-white quadruped in the royal standard; and the Hanoverian flag bearing the one figure of a snow-white charger; and the…

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  • And if Will Benteen can’t make a go of the cotton, I’m willing to chip in and help out on that white elephant in Clayton County that you love so much.
    Margaret Mitchell  --  Gone with the Wind
  • The Overlook Hotel, a white elephant that has been run lucklessly by almost a dozen different groups and individuals since it first opened its doors in 1910, is now being operated as a security-jacketed "key club," ostensibly for unwinding businessmen.
    Stephen King  --  The Shining

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