from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun 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.
  • noun A source of worry or distress.
  • noun An obstacle to success. synonym: burden.

from The Century Dictionary.

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) 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 Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun 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.
  • noun golf A double eagle, or three under par on any one hole.
  • noun idiomatic A long-term impediment, burden, or curse.

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

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


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

[Probably alteration (influenced by Latin albus, white) of alcatras, pelican, from Portuguese or Spanish alcatraz, from Arabic al-g̣aṭṭās : al-, the + g̣aṭṭās, diver, sea eagle (from g̣aṭasa, to plunge, dive; see g̣ṭs 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 .]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

An alteration of Portuguese word alcatraz ("gannet"), under influence of the Latin word albus ("white"); alcatraz comes from Arabic القطرس (al-qaṭrās', "sea eagle").



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

    November 9, 2007

  • 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


    March 13, 2008

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

    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

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

    June 25, 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

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

    July 10, 2008

  • Whoa, trippy.

    July 10, 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

  • Can I be mean for an hour?

    July 11, 2008