An annoying burden: “That old car is an albatross around my neck.” Literally, an albatross is a large sea bird. The phrase alludes to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” in which a sailor who shoots a friendly albatross is forced to wear its carcass around his neck as punishment.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Other Idioms and Phrases with 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.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.