Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of several large web-footed birds constituting the family Diomedeidae, chiefly of the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere, and having a hooked beak and long narrow wings.
  • n. A constant, worrisome burden.
  • n. An obstacle to success.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various large seabirds of the family Diomedeidae ranging widely in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific and having a hooked beak and long narrow wings.
  • n. A double eagle, or three under par on any one hole.
  • n. A long-term impediment, burden, or curse.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A web-footed bird, of the genus Diomedea, of which there are several species. They are the largest of sea birds, capable of long-continued flight, and are often seen at great distances from the land. They are found chiefly in the southern hemisphere.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A web-footed sea-bird of the petrel family, Procellariidæ, and subfamily Diomedeinæ.
  • n. A thin untwilled woolen material used for women's dresses.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. large web-footed birds of the southern hemisphere having long narrow wings; noted for powerful gliding flight
  • n. (figurative) something that hinders or handicaps

Etymologies

Probably alteration (influenced by Latin albus, white) of alcatras, pelican, from Portuguese or Spanish alcatraz, from Arabic al-ġaṭṭās : al-, the + ġaṭṭās, diver, sea eagle (from ġaṭasa, to plunge, dive; see ġṭs in Semitic roots). Sense 2, after the albatross in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which the mariner killed and had to wear around his neck as a penance.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
An alteration of Portuguese word alcatraz ("gannet"), under influence of the Latin word albus ("white"); alcatraz comes from Arabic القطرس (al-qaṭrās', "sea eagle"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • I know--it's absolutely outrageous. They don't have enough trouble with longlining?

    *sigh*

    October 28, 2009

  • That's atrocious. The poor birds!

    October 26, 2009

  • Stomach contents.

    :-(((((

    October 25, 2009

  • Same here. And remember: We owe John an April Fool's joke. Mwaah-ha-ha-ha!

    July 11, 2008

  • I'm a firefox devotee.

    July 11, 2008

  • Crap! The "blink" tag doesn't work. John is a...

    July 11, 2008

  • *cracking up*

    July 11, 2008

  • I do, Pro.

    July 11, 2008

  • points ears. What's that burning smell?

    Oh, silly me. I'm using firefox myself here.

    July 11, 2008

  • Always. Any excuse to send sionnach up in smoke and I'm in. Whahahahaha!

    July 11, 2008

  • I do.

    July 11, 2008

  • <blink>How many of you use firefox?</blink>

    July 11, 2008

  • Oh, it didn't work. John is a slack bastard.

    July 11, 2008

  • Can I be mean for an hour?

    July 11, 2008

  • I don't mind it. We could do it as an April Fool prank on John next year. Imagine everyone entering comments in italics for a day.

    July 11, 2008

  • Whoa, trippy.

    July 10, 2008

  • O, I think you may have forgotten to close your "emphasis" and now we've gone all italic on you. :-)

    July 10, 2008

  • Ah! Well a-day! What evil looks
    Had I from old and young!
    Instead of the cross, the albatross
    About my neck was hung.

    - The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

    July 10, 2008

  • I've had that happen too. I think I even reported it to John as a bug once.

    June 25, 2008

  • Don't be shocked. For some reason, I had it twice on one list (which shouldn't happen but does), and when I deleted one instance, it disappeared entirely. So I had to re-add and now it looks like I'd forgotten it until now.

    No, really. (Actually, that seems to happen a lot w/ the longer lists.)

    June 25, 2008

  • Reesetee, I'm shocked that you hadn't listed albatross until now. At least you had gooney bird. :-)

    June 25, 2008

  • So I'm minding my own business, catching up on news, and here's what I find:
    "Wandering albatrosses fly for thousands of miles across the ocean, usually gliding a few feet above sea level. Floating carrion, especially squid, make up a large part of their diet." Wandering Albatrosses Follow Their Nose, ENN 3/11/08

    SQUID!

    March 13, 2008

  • Fot the uninitiated, here's the Monty Python connection.

    November 9, 2007