Used of programs or systems that are both conspicuous hog
s (owing perhaps to poor design founded on brute force and ignorance
) and exceedingly hairy
in source form.
An elephantine program may be functional and even friendly, but (as in the old joke about being in bed with an elephant) it's tough to have around all the same (and, like a pachyderm, difficult to maintain).
In extreme cases, hackers have been known to make trumpeting sounds or perform expressive proboscatory mime at the mention of the offending program. Usage: semi-humorous.
Compare "has the elephant nature" and the somewhat more pejorative monstrosity.
See also second-system effect