“God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!-
Why looks’t thou so?”-With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.
This is one of the more unusual English idioms. It means a very heavy, psychological burden.
But why an albatross?
Every four years, at least once while watching the Olympics, I’ll have a look at the schedule for the day, I’ll come across a sport listed and ask The what??? Keirin!? What on earth is that!? It seems that with every Olympic Games my vocabulary widens thanks to names of specific forms of sports I’ll never encounter again in my life. So here’s a quick look at some of those oh-so specific terms we’ve been hearing for the last week and a bit:
Keirin: a type of cycling race in which the riders sprint after a few speed-controlled laps in which they have to follow a man on a motorized bicycle called a derny. When I see the derny rider, I always think: Who is he? Does he only ever ride a derny? What does he do with the rest of his time? I don’t think I could do that, help people win glory without having a chance myself. Also, it looks really silly.
Repechage: a stage in a competition in which competitors who failed to proceed to the final round, usually by a small margin, get another chance to qualify. It sounds much nicer than losers’ round, but then when you consider the original meaning in French—fishing out/rescuing—the name sounds deliberately humiliating.
Shuttlecock: Hee hee! The little thing they hit around in badminton. Shuttle coming from the meaning to move quickly back and forth, and cock from its resemblance to a male bird’s plumage (and nothing else).
Fosbury Flop: The method employed by high jumpers to go over the bar backwards. Popularised by American athlete Dick Fosbury in 1965. Before he introduced his technique, athletes used a variety of forward-facing methods, all of which looked incredibly undignified, and can be seen in video below:
Laser Radial: Not a classic sci-fi novel, but a class of sailing boat, seemingly so-called because it sounds cool. And why not?
Corruption: sadly, there are probably too many words to cover here, so I’ll have to do another list of Olympics-related corruption vocabulary.