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I know someone who keeps using the phrase "The pink elephant in the room". I know that phrase "The elephant in the room".

Is this the same thing? Does it mean something different?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

That someone is confused.

"The elephant in the room" is a problem that everyone knows is there but no one wants to acknowledge.

A "white elephant" is a troublesome or costly possession that's hard to get rid of.

A "pink elephant" is something that people are said to see quite often when they're drunk. It's a drunken hallucination. But Urban dictionary has an entry for "The Pink Elephant in the room": it's also a hallucination.

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Agreed, unless the person is using it with full intentionality and referring subtly to some other association with pink (e.g. the pink triangle). – JAM Feb 16 '13 at 3:45
Perhaps he's aware of the sense mentioned by urbandictionary, or perhaps he's implying that his roommates drink rather too much. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 16 '13 at 9:19

Another relevant expression is

Don't think of a pink elephant.

Upon hearing the phrase, one cannot avoid thinking of a pink elephant. Indeed, some may say that it is necessary to think of the rosy animal in order to parse the sentence.

Perhaps your friend is confusing this expression with the elephant in the room.

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Given the date of your question, you may be referring to METAvivor's metastatic breast cancer awareness campaign launched November 2012 named: "The Elephant in the Pink Room". That campaign was designed to bring attention to the continually overlooked, under-supported and under-funded condition of metastatic breast cancer -- the only breast cancer that is terminal. We lose roughly 40,000 Americans each year to breast cancer and 100% die from metastatic breast cancer. The prevalence and realities of this community gets lost in a pink haze of positivity; hence the use of the elephant metaphor to bring attention to the metastatic breast cancer cause.

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mbcaware.org – Mari-Lou A Feb 21 '14 at 21:16

When your body is physically dependent on alcohol, you will hallucinate when you can't get more alcohol. Pink elephants are the stereotypical image of what drunks see when they they get the shakes and possible seizures from lack of booze.

'The elephant in the room' is the same as saying 'the 500-pound gorilla in the room', referring to a problem that everyone knows is there but no one wants to acknowledge.

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protected by tchrist Feb 26 '15 at 2:24

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