at·​las | \ ˈat-ləs How to pronounce atlas (audio) \

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 matter
b : a bound collection of tables, charts, or plates
4 : the first vertebra of the neck
5 plural usually atlantes\ ət-​ˈlan-​(ˌ)tēz How to pronounce atlantes (audio) , at-​ \ : a male figure used like a caryatid as a supporting column or pilaster

called also telamon

Illustration of atlas

Illustration of atlas

atlas 5

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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.

Examples of atlas in a Sentence

a road atlas of the U.S.
Recent Examples on the Web Over time, the application has evolved from a fairly static online representation of an atlas, to a GPS-powered navigation tool, to a platform for reviews—and, of course, for ads. Lauren Goode, Wired, "Google Maps's Jen Fitzpatrick Says the Future of Maps Goes Beyond Driving," 6 Feb. 2020 Much like an atlas, each page of this project reveals something telling and different about the city at hand. Dan Singer, Dallas News, "Dallas residents map out their own corners of the city in new book of drawings," 6 Jan. 2020 Looking at the Moon from another direction The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory’s first lunar atlases simply consisted of the best images from a telescope. Timothy Swindle, The Conversation, "Mapping the Moon for Apollo," 15 July 2019 After two years of work, an international team of scientists has now published an atlas of all 38 of the Indian cobra’s chromosomes in Nature Genetics, the most complete snake genome ever assembled. Megan Molteni, Wired, "Scientists Figured Out the Indian Cobra's Genome—at Last," 6 Jan. 2020 The illustration below by the Scottish cartographer Alexander Keith Johnston, which appeared in an 1850 atlas, depicts the distribution of plants at different elevations for several mountain ranges, including the Andes, the Himalayas and the Alps. Greg Miller, Smithsonian, "The Pioneering Maps of Alexander von Humboldt," 16 Oct. 2019 Wally is one of several humans who discuss the present and future of workplace automation in the seventh installment of the Sleepwalkers podcast, which offers an atlas of the artificial intelligence revolution. Tom Simonite, Wired, "Will AI Take Your Job—or Make It Better?," 16 Dec. 2019 One objective is to prepare a three-dimensional atlas of both the near and far sides of the moon. Washington Post, "Ahead of 2nd moon shot, a timeline of India’s space program," 12 July 2019 Usually, a statistic like that comes with an ugly map of Southern outliers that looks a heck of a lot like a Confederate atlas. al, "Allegedly pro-life Alabama makes life hell for moms," 1 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'atlas.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of atlas

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for atlas

Latin Atlant-, Atlas, from Greek

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Time Traveler for atlas

Time Traveler

The first known use of atlas was in 1583

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Statistics for atlas

Last Updated

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Atlas.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for atlas


How to pronounce atlas (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of atlas

: a book of maps


at·​las | \ ˈat-ləs How to pronounce atlas (audio) \

Kids Definition of atlas

: a book of maps


at·​las | \ ˈat-ləs How to pronounce atlas (audio) \

Medical Definition of atlas

: the first vertebra of the neck

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More from Merriam-Webster on atlas

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with atlas

Spanish Central: Translation of atlas

Nglish: Translation of atlas for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of atlas for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about atlas

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