What does it mean to have an albatross around your neck? A political pundit, referring to a current candidate, mentioned “an alcatraz around his neck.” The proper version, with an albatross, originates from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, wherein a sailor shoots an albatross, bringing down a curse on the boat, and his shipmates force him to wear an albatross around his neck as a symbol of shame. Grant notes that the name “albatross” likely derives from the Portuguese or Spanish “alcatraz,” meaning “pelican” or “sea bird.” So perhaps an alcatraz around the neck isn’t so far off after all. This is part of a complete episode.
- Gee and Haw 03/12/2018: The highly specialized vocabulary of people who work outdoors, communicating with sled dogs, a word from the sport of rock-climbing, church key, browse line, smeuse,... [more]
- Gung Ho 03/05/2018: The origins of the peace symbol, why we say someone who's enthusiastic is gung ho, a tasty spin on stuffed foccacia that originated in eastern... [more]
- Crusticles and Fenderbergs 02/12/2018: A second-generation Filipino-American finds that when he speaks English, his personality is firm, direct, and matter-of-fact. But when he speaks with family members in Tagalog,... [more]
- Bun in the Oven 02/05/2018: How many different ways are there to say you have a baby on the way? You can say you're pregnant, great with child, clucky, awkward,... [more]
- Flying Pickle 01/29/2018: How would you like to be welcomed to married life by friends and neighbors descending on your home for a noisy celebration, tearing off the... [more]