- any of several large, web-footed sea birds of the family Diomedeidae that have the ability to remain aloft for long periods.Compare wandering albatross.
- a seemingly inescapable moral or emotional burden, as of guilt or responsibility.
- something burdensome that impedes action or progress.
- a lightweight worsted fabric with a crepe or pebble finish.
- a plain-weave cotton fabric with a soft nap surface.
Origin of albatross
Examples from the Web for albatross
Note to Sting: An “albatross” in this context is more like “tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt.”Sting and Hillary Are Just Like You: How the Very Rich Play at Being Very Ordinary
June 24, 2014
The deal reached to end the shutdown did nothing to address the albatross of unpredictability.The GOP’s Uncertainty Strategy Is Killing the Recovery
October 18, 2013
It was tough when I was younger; it was like an albatross on my back but I just found a way to navigate it.Helen Mirren On ‘Hitchcock,’ Sexism, Queen Elizabeth II & More
November 20, 2012
But the Ryan budget could become an albatross in the negotiations over the fiscal cliff.Back in Congress, What Will Paul Ryan Do Next?
November 16, 2012
Age has become the albatross hanging on the neck of a generation of would-be mothers.The Girls’ Guide to Getting Pregnant—Type-A Style
April 17, 2012
Only once, too, did we catch an albatross, the bird of the Southern Ocean.Six Letters From the Colonies
The Albatross soon after wore ship, and stood to the westward.An Old Sailor's Yarns
The Chameleon flies like an albatross—she is already the devil knows where.A Romance of the West Indies
Then the albatross steers out to sea to try his luck elsewhere.
The albatross is a knowing bird, or he would not follow vessels for weeks.
- any large oceanic bird of the genera Diomedea and Phoebetria, family Diomedeidae, of cool southern oceans: order Procellariiformes (petrels). They have long narrow wings and are noted for a powerful gliding flightSee also wandering albatross
- a constant and inescapable burden or handicapan albatross of debt
- golf a score of three strokes under par for a hole
Word Origin and History for albatross
1670s, probably from Spanish or Portuguese alcatraz "pelican" (16c.), perhaps derived from Arabic al-ghattas "sea eagle" [Barnhart]; or from Portuguese alcatruz "the bucket of a water wheel" [OED], from Arabic al-qadus "machine for drawing water, jar" (from Greek kados "jar"), in reference to the pelican's pouch (cf. Arabic saqqa "pelican," literally "water carrier"). Either way, the spelling was influenced by Latin albus "white." The name was extended, through some mistake, by English sailors to a larger sea-bird (order Tubinares).
Albatrosses were considered good luck by sailors; figurative sense of "burden" (1936) is from Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1798) about the bad luck of a sailor who shoots an albatross and then is forced to wear its corpse as an indication that he, not the whole ship, offended against the bird. The prison-island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay is named for pelicans that roosted there.