Definition of atlas
1 capitalized : a Titan who for his part in the Titans' revolt against the gods is forced by Zeus to support the heavens on his shoulders
2 capitalized : one who bears a heavy burden
3a : a bound collection of maps often including illustrations, informative tables, or textual matterb : a bound collection of tables, charts, or plates
4 : the first vertebra of the neck
5 plural usually atlantesplay \ət-ˈlan-(ˌ)tēz, at-\ : a male figure used like a caryatid as a supporting column or pilaster —called also telamon
Examples of atlas in a sentence
a road atlas of the U.S.
Word History of atlas
In Greek mythology, giants ruled the world in an early age. Their rule was overthrown after a mighty battle with other gods. Atlas was one of these giants, and after their defeat, the story goes, he was forced to hold up the sky on his shoulders. In the 16th century, the Flemish mapmaker Gerardus Mercator published a collection of maps. On the title page he showed a picture of Atlas supporting his burden. Mercator gave the book the title Atlas. Later collections of maps included similar pictures of Atlas, and came to be called atlases.
Origin and Etymology of atlas
Latin Atlant-, Atlas, from Greek
First Known Use: 1583
ATLAS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of atlas for English Language Learners
: a book of maps
ATLAS Defined for Kids
Definition of atlas for Students
: a book of maps
Medical Definition of atlas
: the first vertebra of the neck
Biographical Note for atlas
Atlas,, Greek mythological character. In Greek legend Atlas was a Titan who took part in the revolt against the gods. As a punishment he was condemned to hold the heavens aloft forever. Atlas was usually represented as a human figure bearing the heavens or the celestial globe upon his shoulders.
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