Daily Tidbit: albatross (metaphor)

Definitions for albatross

  1. a seemingly inescapable moral or emotional burden, as of guilt or responsibility.
  2. something burdensome that impedes action or progress.

The word albatross is sometimes used as a metaphor to mean a psychological burden that feels like a curse.

It is also an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, written in 1798. In the poem, an albatross starts to follow a ship — being followed by an albatross was generally considered a sign of good luck. However, the mariner shoots the albatross, thereby cursing the ship, and the mariner is blamed by his crew for the “bad luck” that befalls the ship and its crew at sea.


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