albatross around one's neck

Cultural Dictionary

albatross around one's neck definition


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 American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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