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 (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.
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.
an albatross around your neckBRITISH, AMERICAN or
an albatross round your neckBRITISH
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.
albatross round someone's necksomething 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.
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.
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.