Hello and welcome to lesson 6 of the 'English Phrases and Idioms' course. In this lesson, we will be looking at the origin and meaning of 'There's an Elephant in the Room & Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder.'
– The first phrase for today is 'There's an Elephant in the Room.'
– There are lots of phrases in English that have animals in them.
– That's true; we often use animals in a figurative way to describe something different. This one, 'An Elephant in the Room,' is a phrase from the 1950's USA and has become very popular. The British artist Banksy used this phrase as the title of an exhibition in Los Angeles in 2006 to highlight global poverty, but here Banksy rather literally put a live elephant inside a room.
This phrase means there is a very important topic that everyone in the room knows about, but no one feels comfortable discussing. For example, 'Jim walked into the meeting with his clothes completely wet, before starting the meeting his boss asked him, 'do you want to talk about the elephant in the room Jim and tell everyone what happened?' or 'My brother sat down for dinner with a black eye, he didn't want to tell us what happened, so there was an elephant in the room for the duration of the dinner.'
The second phrase we are looking at today is 'Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder.' Do you know what this one means, Cami?
– Does this mean what I think is beautiful might be different from what you think is beautiful?
– That's right. This is, in fact, one of the oldest phrases we have looked at on this course. It can be seen in Greek back in the 3rd century, and similar phrases were used by the likes of William Shakespeare in 1588; however, it didn't really appear in its current form until the 19th century.
Like you said, it means beauty is a subjective thing, and what one person thinks is ugly, another person may find beautiful. For example, 'In his mother's eyes, he may have a beautiful face, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.' Or 'I don't know why he finds her attractive, I think she is so ugly, but as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.'
So listener, Have you ever felt like there's an elephant in the room and you can't talk about an important topic? And we all have different tastes and preferences, so beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
This is the end of lesson 6 of the 'English Phrases and Idioms' course.