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A.Word.A.Daywith Anu Garg
albatross (AL-buh-tros) noun, plural albatross or albatrosses
1. Any of the Diomedeidae family of large, web-footed seabirds.
2. A persistent wearisome burden, as of guilt, for example.
[Apparently an alteration of Portuguese or Spanish alcatraz, from Arabic al-gattas (the diver, name for a kind of sea eagle).]
The name of Alcatraz Island near San Francisco, the site of a former maximum security prison, has the same origin.
The metaphorical second sense of the term goes back to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In the poem, a mariner kills an albatross for no reason. His shooting down of the bird brings a curse to the ship, and his shipmates throw the carcass of the dead bird around his neck, thus giving a powerful idiom to the English language. As a penance, the wizened mariner wanders, recounting his tale.
"What started off as a popular war has turned out to be something of
an albatross around Mr Bush's neck."
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action. -George Washington, 1st US president (1732-1799)
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