any of several large, web-footed sea birds of the family Diomedeidae that have the ability to remain aloft for long periods.
Compare .
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.

Contemporary Examples

Someone who is justifiably frustrated that his central public accomplishment, Romneycare, is now an albatross.
Romney the Whiner Paul Begala October 18, 2011

His real difficulty is that his 16 years in the House and Senate hang around his neck like an albatross.
Rick Santorum’s Beltway Curse Is Hurting His 2012 Campaign Howard Kurtz February 23, 2012

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 Tim Teeman June 23, 2014

Groupon would have been an inspired purchase; Associated Content now looks like a $90 million albatross.
The CEO Hail Mary: A Scorecard on Corporate Change Agents Nick Summers February 28, 2011

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 Marlow Stern November 19, 2012

Historical Examples

In Kamtschatka the albatross is caught by the natives and made useful.
Mamma’s Stories about Birds Anonymous (AKA the author of “Chickseed without Chickweed”)

Only once, too, did we catch an albatross, the bird of the Southern Ocean.
Six Letters From the Colonies Robert Seaton

Mascola’s boats were crowded closely about the albatross and his own fleet was completely fenced off.
El Diablo Brayton Norton

The albatross soon after wore ship, and stood to the westward.
An Old Sailor’s Yarns Nathaniel Ames

The “albatross” was armed, and relied upon being able to defend herself.
The Waif of the “Cynthia” Andr Laurie and Jules Verne

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 flight See also wandering albatross
a constant and inescapable burden or handicap: an albatross of debt
(golf) a score of three strokes under par for a hole

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.


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    an instrument that measures the of a surface.

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