What's as unnecessary as an elephant needing a bicycle? Elephant metaphors abound in speech and literature.
Kings of Siam offered a rare white elephant to noblemen who had fallen out of favor. The cost of feeding and caring for the creature destroyed the recipient. This evolved into using “white elephant” to refer to an expensive and wasteful construction project.
Then a white elephant became an undesirable possession. A white elephant sale attracted individuals who found value in others' discards. In his story, "Hills Like White Elephants," Ernest Hemingway led the reader to decide the value.
An elephant in the room refers to an obvious situation no one wants to acknowledge. When the elephant changes colors, a pink elephant refers to a drunk person's hallucination.
The elephant test refers to the difficulty describing an elephant. One just knows it when one sees it. In one story, six blind men had the task of describing an elephant. Each felt a different part and described the animal from that reference point: the trunk, a tusk, an ear, a leg, the stomach, and the tail.
Have you heard anyone say that they hope to “see the elephant” ? Individuals traveled miles to view an elephant in a circus parade or under the big top. As a result, any overwhelming experience could result in seeing the elephant.
P. T. Barnum advertised his elephant, Jumbo's size which led to referencing the name as a synonym for colossal. (Elephantine, is another synonym, though it also refers to ponderousness.) Dumbo from Disney fame has discovered its name thrown around in disrespect.
Other elephant attributes include superior intelligence and memory. Since they have poor eyesight, based on observations in zoos and circuses, they are not bothered by mice as some have believed.
Creative Write: Create your own elephant metaphors for a story or poem. Or, try the fox, chicken, frog, snake or donkey.