albatross

[ al-buh-traws, -tros ]SEE DEFINITION OF albatross

EXAMPLES FROM THE WEB FOR ALBATROSS

Only once, too, did we catch an albatross, the bird of the Southern Ocean.

The Albatross soon after wore ship, and stood to the westward.

The Chameleon flies like an albatross—she is already the devil knows where.

The albatross is a knowing bird, or he would not follow vessels for weeks.

Then the albatross steers out to sea to try his luck elsewhere.

Now the albatross soars round the rocks of the "Island Cloud."

This current is one of the favourite haunts of the albatross.

Albatross cloth is generally in white, black, or solid colors.

The albatross has been seen fully 1000 miles from any shore.

I attacked two Albatross scouts and crashed them, killing the pilots.

WORD ORIGIN

1670s, probably from Spanish or Portuguese alcatraz "pelican" (16c.), perhaps derived from Arabic al-ghattas "sea eagle" [Barnhart]; or from Portuguese alcatruz "the bucket of a water wheel" [OED], from Arabic al-qadus "machine for drawing water, jar" (from Greek kados "jar"), in reference to the pelican's pouch (cf. Arabic saqqa "pelican," literally "water carrier"). Either way, the spelling was influenced by Latin albus "white." The name was extended, through some mistake, by English sailors to a larger sea-bird (order Tubinares).

Albatrosses were considered good luck by sailors; figurative sense of "burden" (1936) is from Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1798) about the bad luck of a sailor who shoots an albatross and then is forced to wear its corpse as an indication that he, not the whole ship, offended against the bird. The prison-island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay is named for pelicans that roosted there.

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