elephant in the room

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Possibly from Ivan Andreevich Kyrlov's 1814 fable, "The Inquisitive Man", which tells of a man going to a museum and noticing all sorts of things apart from an elephant.


elephant in the room (plural elephants in the room)

  1. (idiomatic) A problem or difficult issue that is very obvious, but is ignored for the convenience or comfort of those involved.
    • 2008, Nicholas Rufford, "Motormouth: The car of the future, at £1,300," Sunday Times (UK), 6 Jan.,
      There is an elephant in the room that nearly every politician and green campaigner is ignoring. It’s called population growth.

Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ Sabine Fiedler: Gläserne Decke und Elefant im Raum - Phraseologische Anglizismen im Deutschen. Berlin: Logos Verlag, 2014, S. 92–96.

See also[edit]