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a heavy burden


albatross = eine Last, eine Bürde, ein Klotz am Bein ----- albatross (zool.) = der Albatros



“Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are ALBATROSSES weighing their clubs down.”

Jonathan Wilson - The Guardian

Did you


- something or someone you want to be free from because they are causing you problems

- a large white bird with long strong wings that lives near the sea, found especially in the areas of the Pacific and South Atlantic oceans

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary


The name albatross derives from the Arabic al-câdous or al-ġaţţās (literally, “the diver”), which made its way to English via the Portuguese form “alcatraz”, which is also the origin of the name of the famous Alcatraz prison.


The metaphor for something or someone that is a burden stems from a work by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge called 'The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner'. The poem is about a sailor who describes a long voyage from which he has just returned.

After a violent storm veered the ship off course to Antarctica, an albatross suddenly appeared and directed the vessel to warmer seas. Despite this, the sailor killed the albatross with a bow and arrow, much to the dismay of the rest of the crew. Subsequently, the ship was beset by further misfortune, namely not enough drinking water. The crew tied the dead albatross around the sailor’s neck to remind him of his sins.

This is why albatross is frequently used in the expression “an albatross around the neck”.


a cross to bear, ALBATROSS, burden, ball and chain, baggage, deadweight, drag, encumbrance, load, millstone, monkey on one's back, pain in the backside, stumbling block, thorn in one’s side

SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation today, say something like:

“Having to pay back a student loan is an ALBATROSS around anyone’s neck.”

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:

Paul Smith

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