Idiom 112 – White elephant

It feels like the new BER airport in Berlin will never be finished. It’s too late to give up because so much money has been invested already, but it’s nowhere near ready for travellers. And on top of it all, it costs 16 million euros each month just to maintain the unfinished buildings. It’s a total white elephant (lästiger Besitz – mehr Ärgernis als Nutzen).

File:Lord White Elephant.jpgThe term comes from the sacred white elephants that used to be kept by the kings and queens of Southeast Asia as symbols of justice, power, peace and prosperity. The white elephants were seen as objects of great opulence, very expensive but not particularly useful