Definition of albatross
1 : any of a family (Diomedeidae) of large web-footed seabirds that have long slender wings, are excellent gliders, and include the largest seabirds
2a : something that causes persistent deep concern or anxietyb : something that greatly hinders accomplishment : encumbrance Fame has become an albatross that prevents her from leading a normal life.
Examples of albatross in a Sentence
Fame has become an albatross that prevents her from leading a normal and happy life.
Fame has become an albatross around her neck.
Recent Examples of albatross from the Web
Government is not simply an albatross around the neck of otherwise free individuals.
Jimmy Carter is the albatross that awaits any Democratic president who can be shown to have failed through fecklessness or ineffectiveness.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources began investigating after three Laysan albatrosses were found dead last year in Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve.
ONE OF THE MOST mysterious buildings in Los Angeles is a midcentury Freemasons’ temple that sits like a white-marble albatross on Wilshire Boulevard a few miles west of the city’s downtown.
These include the Laysan albatross, which became a poster child for plastic consumption thanks to photographer Chris Jordan’s series of iconic shots.
Coleridge’s albatross, Poe’s raven, Hitchcock’s homicidal flock and Iñárritu’s
If the subsidies are equivalent to marketplace subsidies, premiums and savings from the over-50 crowd could actually cut back net costs for the Medicare albatross.
Various ailments have been an albatross on d’Arnaud’s promising career.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'albatross'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Why is albatross used to refer to a burden?
The albatross is an exceedingly large seabird, having a wingspan as much as 11 feet across. It is a magnificent glider, capable of staying aloft for hours at a time without flapping its wings, and tends to remain almost entirely at sea, typically coming ashore only to breed.
In Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1798 poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the titular mariner kills an albatross that has been following his ship, bringing down a curse that leads to the death of all other crew members. As a punishment, the crew hang the dead bird from the mariner’s neck, and he remains alive to witness the ship’s fate unfold. This potent emblem led to the coining of a metaphorical meaning for albatross as something that causes anxiety or guilt or that burdens and encumbers.
Origin and Etymology of albatross
probably alteration of obsolete alcatrace frigate bird, from Spanish or Portuguese alcatraz pelican, from Arabic al-ghaṭṭās, a kind of sea eagle
First Known Use: 1672See Words from the same year
ALBATROSS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of albatross for English Language Learners
: a large white ocean bird that has very long wings
: a continuing problem that makes it difficult or impossible to do or achieve something
ALBATROSS Defined for Kids
Definition of albatross for Students
: a very large seabird with webbed feet
Seen and Heard
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