elephant in the room: meaning and explanation

An elephant in the room is a phrase used for a big problem or issue that everyone is aware of but which no one is talking about.

This phrase can be used to describe a situation (as with micro-dictations one and two), or to try to force people to confront the problem and stop ignoring it. e.g. I hate to be the one to bring up the elephant in the room, but we all know that there’s real chance that our department is going to be shut down in the next few weeks.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Micro-listening #1

Accent: North America

, . , .
, one in the the elephant . Without new , bankruptcy
Of , no one in the mentioned the elephant in the . Without new , we’re facing bankruptcy

About the sentence

…we’re facing bankruptcy

We use the verb face with something negative (such as problems or challenges) to say that it is a real possibility or likely to happen. e.g. After a very disappointing year, we’re facing the closure of our flagship store.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: Ireland

, .
The room is the morale, refuses to .
The in the room is the low morale, but boss refuses to address .

About the sentence

…seriously low morale

The word morale describes the level of motivation, positivity and enthusiasm of an individual or a group of people. We can talk about morale being high or low, or ways to ‘lift’ or ‘boost’ morale. e.g. My company tried to boost morale by taking us all on a team building weekend, but it really didn’t work.

…the boss refuses to address it

If you address a problem or issue, then you engage with it or deal with it. e.g. It’s vital that we address these complaints in an efficient and professional manner.

Micro-listening #3

Accent: Australia

, , .
Look, else is mention the room, then I’ll it.
Look, no one else is to mention the elephant the room, then I’ll to do it.

Photo by Richard Jacobs on Unsplash