albatross

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's an albatross — in which case it's somewhere between the first two. An albatross is one of the largest flying birds in the world.

The word albatross comes from the Spanish and Portuguese word alcatraz meaning "pelican," but it's not just animals that this word describes. Think of the huge white prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco that hindered its inmates from going anywhere, reminding them daily of the guilt and burden of their crime — all feelings that are meant to be conjured by something that's an albatross in a person's life.

PRIMARY MEANINGS OF: albatross

1
n
large web-footed birds of the southern hemisphere having long narrow wings; noted for powerful gliding flight
2
n
(figurative) something that hinders or handicaps
FULL DEFINITIONS OF: albatross
1

n large web-footed birds of the southern hemisphere having long narrow wings; noted for powerful gliding flight

Synonyms:
mollymawk
Types:
Diomedea exulans, wandering albatross
very large albatross; white with wide black wings
Diomedea nigripes, black-footed albatross, gooney, gooney bird, goonie, goony
a variety of albatross with black feet
Type of:
oceanic bird, pelagic bird
bird of the open seas
2

n (figurative) something that hinders or handicaps

“she was an albatross around his neck”
Synonyms:
millstone
Type of:
balk, baulk, check, deterrent, handicap, hinderance, hindrance, impediment
something immaterial that interferes with or delays action or progress
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