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An albatross around one’s neck

An albatross around one’s neck describes a terrible burden that a person must carry. The phrase an albatross around one’s neck comes from the poem the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, published in 1798. In the story told in the poem, an albatross, which is a bird, follows a ship. Generally, albatrosses are considered omens of good luck, but when the wind dies and the ship is stranded, the mariner blames the albatross and kills it. As the bad luck continues, the ship and crew blame their misfortunes on the mariner, for killing the albatross. The dead albatross is hung from the mariner’s neck to signify the mariner’s culpability in cursing the ship and crew.


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Examples

The budget will be an albatross around the Coalition’s neck or a sound platform used to advance the Coalition’s pledge to be the better economic manager. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

If you’re a senator running for reelection and his name shows up at the top of the ticket, you might as well tie an albatross around your neck and head out to sea. (The Washington Post)

Anti-Semitism is a live issue now for British Jews and Jeremy Corbyn is seen as an albatross around Labour’s neck. (Haaretz)

Money and making the university sustainable are the biggest worries that have hung like an albatross around his predecessors’ necks, and he knows that any mention of the word “stipends” was akin to stepping on a minefield of protest from all quarters. (The Times of Malta)

His fuzzy pal turned out to be more of an albatross around his neck, though, as it made the 30-year-old easy for responding officers to identify, said Police Capt. Bryan Howard. (The Daily Mail)

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