- albatross:  The word albatross has a confused history. The least uncertain thing about it is that until the late 17th century it was alcatras; the change of the first element to albaseems to have arisen from association of the albatross’s white colour with Latin albus ‘white’. However, which particular bird the alcatras was, and where the word alcatras ultimately came from, are much more dubious.
The term was applied variously, over the 16th to the 19th centuries, to albatrosses, frigate birds, gannets, gulls, and pelicans. Its immediate source was Spanish and Portuguese alcatraz ‘pelican’ (hence Alcatraz, the prison-island in San Francisco Bay, USA, once the haunt of pelicans), which was clearly of Arabic origin, and it has been speculated that it comes from Arabic al qādūs ‘the bucket’, on the premise that the bucket of a water-wheel used for irrigation resembles a pelican’s beak.
Arabic qādūs itself comes from Greek kádos ‘jar’.
- albatross (n.)
- 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 (compare 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.
- 1. Privatization could become a political albatross for the ruling party.
- 2. The albatross can stay airborne at sea for days at a time.
- 3. The albatross is the king of gliders.
- 4. Our only companion is the wandering albatross, which glides effortlessly and gracefully behind the yacht.
- 5. Any ship that crosses the Pacific is accompanied for many days by the smaller albatross.
[ albatross 造句 ]