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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. My grandfather would refuse to take to the sea until he had seen an albatross. Would you stop worrying? No, we haven't seen an albatross yet, but I'm sure our voyage will be fine nonetheless.
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. The old property became quite an albatross as the costs of repair and renovation began to skyrocket. Now that everyone we've ever known has started asking for a loan, those lottery winnings are nothing but an albatross.
3. In golf, a score of three strokes under par on a single hole. You had two strokes on that par five, right? Nice, that's an albatross! I can't believe you got an albatross on such a difficult hole—great job! I'll finish with a better score than you if I get an albatross on the next hole too—just saying.

albatross (a)round (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. The fact that I've been fired from a few jobs has turned my résumé into an albatross round my neck. The high expectations of her parents proved to be an albatross around the sensitive young girl's neck.
See also: albatross, neck
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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, an, around, neck
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

albatross around one's neck, an

A burden or curse. The figurative meaning comes straight from Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798), a narrative poem in which a young sailor who shot an albatross, considered an extremely unlucky action, was punished by having the dead bird hung around his neck.
See also: albatross, an, around
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer

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
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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References in periodicals archive ?
"Albatrosses and other seabirds are long-lived predators that fly very long distances to forage at sea and nest on land.
Mr Yusi who is now Royal Albatross' 2nd Officer, added that he will forever be grateful to Mr.
Inadvertently the albatross is killed; the liberation and intuition associated with the bird is rejected in favour of the social applause represented by the Mariner's judgmental comrades.
"Shy albatross in Tasmania stay around their colony during winter so we have access to the scats year round and can compare winter and breeding season diets.
Belsham, a pupil at Whitley Bay High School, was runner-up in the girls' section and one of the event organisers Guy Carr, said: "We get an albatross at the second hole only about once every five years and never before with a player so young.
This paper is one of the few documented records of Light-mantled Albatross in Brazil, noting that more records should be published in scientific journals to understand more the distribution and dispersion pattern of this species.
Birds of the albatross family tend to fly long distances over open water.
PMRF Barking Sands, located on the west coast of Kauai Island is the site of both an active Navy airfield and a seasonal nesting colony of Laysan albatross. When the albatross, with their impressive wingspan of nearly seven feet (two meters), began nesting regularly on the base in the 1980s, it raised concern for both bird and aircraft safety.
Southport's Fleetwood holed out with a seven iron from 198 yards on the fourth hole at Wentworth for just the third albatross in the history of the European Tour's flagship event, which saw defending champion Rory McIlroy miss the cut on Friday.
A committed environmentalist, Charles had a long-standing concern about the albatross. Its decline was widely blamed on illegal and unregulated fishing, and he raised the issue with the then-fisheries minister, Elliot Morley.
Avocet, Albatross, Anhinga, all awestruck at Adelie's amazing aptitude.
The display, at the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in Stewart Park, also featured albatross from the southern ocean.
sandersi (top) would have dwarfed modern-day fliers, including the California condor (bottom left) and the wandering albatross (right).
Albatross Archive triumphed in the final of Cardiff's The Big Gig.