Cheating on one's wife and carrying around the secret for decades is an example of something that could become an albatross.
The bird in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is an example of an albatross.
Origin of albatross
- Probably alteration (influenced by Latin albus white) of alcatras pelican from Portuguese or Spanish alcatraz from Arabic al-ġaṭṭās al- the ġaṭṭās diver, sea eagle (from ġaṭasa to plunge, dive ġṭs 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 American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
- The "long-term impediment" sense is derived from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, from the seabird.