elephant and the beer“The elephant in the room” is an idiom for a problem or controversial issue that is too big to ignore, but that everyone tries to avoid talking about because it will cause discomfort or conflict. In 1814, the Russian poet and writer Ivan Krylov wrote a fable, which tells of a man who goes to a museum and notices all sorts of tiny things, but then fails to notice an elephant. The phrase became proverbial, then appeared in the US in 1935, where it meant something obvious but also strange or incongruous. In the 1950s, ‘the elephant in the room’came to mean what it means today, a major issue that people choose to ignore out of fear. The pandemic is a key example, as most governments were slow to take action despite the overwhelming evidence. Today, environmental issues are often cited as ‘the elephant in the room’.

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