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albatross around one's neck



Coleridge's Ancient Mariner (engraving by Gustave Doré, 1876)

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From The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, wherein a sailor's killing of an albatross brings bad luck and results in the dead bird being hung around the killer's neck by his crewmates.


albatross around one's neck

  1. (idiomatic, figuratively) A characteristic, possession, associate, or previous deed that hinders one's ability to succeed.
    He bought the properties last year hoping to make a profit by reselling them; however, with the economic downturn, they have become an albatross around his neck.


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