Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


1. A sign or omen of good fortune, specifically in relation to sailing. In this instance, it is a literal albatross that is a symbol of good luck. We saw an albatross flying overhead as soon as we set out, so I think it's safe to say we're going to have a smooth trip out to sea.
2. Something that is considered cursed, an ill omen, or the bringer of bad luck. This metaphorical use of the term is an allusion to the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, in which the titular narrator kills an albatross (usually an omen of good fortune), bringing a curse upon himself and his ship. Ever since he gave that disastrous campaign speech, the congressman has been seen as something of an albatross for the fortunes of his party.

albatross around (one's) neck

A heavy burden that prevents one from achieving success. The phrase refers to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, in which the narrator kills an albatross—a large white bird deemed an omen of good fortune. This act is thought to curse his ship, so he must then wear the albatross around his neck. The old property became an albatross around his neck as the costs of repair and renovation began to skyrocket.
See also: albatross, around, neck

albatross around one's neck

A heavy burden of guilt that becomes an obstacle to success, as in The failed real estate scheme became an albatross around her neck, for now she could not interest other investors in a new project . This idiom comes from Samuel Coleridge's narrative poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798), which is based on the widespread superstition that it is unlucky to kill this large white sea bird. In the poem a sailor does kill an albatross, and when the ship then is becalmed near the equator and runs out of water, his shipmates blame him and force him to wear the dead bird around his neck.
See also: albatross, around, neck

an albatross around your neck


an albatross round your neck

If you describe something as an albatross around your neck or round your neck, you mean that it causes you great problems from which you cannot escape, or it prevents you from doing what you want to do. Being the son of a major criminal was an albatross around my neck. He agrees the song is a musical albatross around their necks. Note: This is a reference to the poem `The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in which the character who shot an albatross (= a large, white sea bird) has to carry the bird hung around his neck.
See also: albatross, around, neck

albatross round someone's neck

something that is burdensome to someone and hinders their progress, especially arising from some misdeed of their own in the past.
From the albatross shot dead by the sailor in Coleridge 's poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner ( 1798 ), which brought his ship bad luck. The bird was hung round his neck as a sign of his guilt.
2000 Sunday Herald Being the offspring of a famous guy has become an albatross round the neck of many a budding young lion.
See also: albatross, neck, round

albatross around one's neck

A burden or stigma brought on by one's actions. Sailors considered the albatross bird to be an omen or manifestation of good luck, and to harm one was to invite disaster not only to the shooter or trapper but the entire ship's company. In Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,” the ship's captain killed one such bird that had landed on the deck while the ship was becalmed. When the wind continued to stay away, the crew blamed the captain's action for the bad luck, and he was forced to wear the albatross's carcass around his neck as a reminder of his misdeed.
See also: albatross, around, neck
References in periodicals archive ?
Albatross spend the majority of their long lives above the ocean.
I count myself extremely lucky to be involved in albatross research, and one of the most enjoyable aspects of reading this book was following the history of scientific research on albatrosses.
Since 2010, federal officials have reported only one additional catch of short-tailed albatross.
We started the Albatross tour with 65 members and two tournaments.
Wildlife Refuge in 1988, with almost three million avian residents, mainly seabird species, including large numbers of both Black-footed and Laysan Albatross, the rare Short-tailed Albatross, and the endangered Laysan Duck.
If that had gone in for another albatross it would have been two in nine holes, which would have been quite scary, but I'm more than delighted with one
I know the odds of getting an albatross are around six million to one but God knows what the odds are of two people in the same family getting one in such a short space of time.
For example, it was estimated that 597 wandering albatross were caught from 2003 to 2006.
The story of his work and its long-term scientific contribution to the study of albatross, penguins, and petrels, are the subject of this fine study by Peat, a naturalist and writer in New Zealand.
Clare Reed, the RSPB's Marine Conservation Officer for the North West, said: "Christmas and New Year in the UK is the height of summer in the Southern Ocean, meaning albatross parents will be battling against the elements to raise and feed their single chicks, travelling thousands of kilometres for food.
Our stamp appeal, which has made over pounds 100,000 since it began in 2004, gets people to save stamps from their Christmas post and donate them to the RSPB to raise money for the Save the Albatross campaign.
The Short-Tailed Albatross Recovery Team (START) agreed that establishing at least one additional breeding colony within part of the bird's former range would be required for recovery.
ALBATROSS feathers dating back 120 years reveal the extent to which mercury pollution is threatening sea birds and global ecosystems.
dagger][dagger] BROWNLIE, Betty The Life Cycle of the Royal Albatross ISBN 9781869439040 SCIS 1464168; The Life Cycle of the Pukeko ISBN 9781869439637 SCIS 1464169 Scholastic, 2010 32pp NZ$18.
Long ago in a musical galaxy that seems quite far away now, there was Albatross.