the elephant in the room

Click below to listen to the phrase.


Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) what everyone talks about

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b) a very awkward situation

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c) what we are not talking about

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The elephant in the room refers to a question or issue no-one wants to address, an obvious problem or risk no-one wants to discuss, or a situation no-one wants to challenge.

The elephant in the room represents a major or important topic or problem that everyone present knows about but is unwilling to address because it is problematic and sensitive.

French translation

un sujet tabou, un non-dit évident, le sujet qui fâche, la question que personne n’ose poser

How NOT to translate

* l’éléphant dans la pièce


Examples in the press

The Purple Elephant in the Room : Crossrail’s Opening Date

Unsurprisingly, the subject of Crossrail/Elizabeth line opening dates is a hot topic in the transport community at the moment. In this article, we address that big purple elephant in the room.’

London Reconnections, 25 April 2022


The elephant in the room Biden can’t ignore

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rules the roost on Capitol Hill. The Kentucky Republican, reprising the playbook he used against former President Barack Obama, is successfully obstructing President Joe Biden’s agenda in a way that exposes the divisions within the Democratic Party and leaves the commander in chief looking weak.

Much of the press coverage surrounding Biden’s performance ignores the elephant in the room—a united Senate Republican caucus standing in the way of almost everything and using the threat of the filibuster to prevent legislation from passing outside the reconciliation process.’

CNN, 21 Jan. 2022


Everyday usage

As one participant articulated, ’There is an elephant in the room, and it is recurring costs’.

Poverty in the world is the famous elephant in the room that everybody avoids talking about.

© Hans for Claramedia. 29 April 2022

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