atlas

noun at·las \ ˈat-ləs \
Updated on: 16 Nov 2017

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
3 a : 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 play \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

  1. a road atlas of the U.S.

Recent Examples of atlas from the Web

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.

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.

Illustration of atlas

Origin and Etymology of atlas

Latin Atlant-, Atlas, from Greek


ATLAS Defined for English Language Learners

atlas

noun

Definition of atlas for English Language Learners

  • : a book of maps


ATLAS Defined for Kids

atlas

noun at·las \ ˈat-ləs \

Definition of atlas for Students

: a book of maps

Medical Dictionary

atlas

noun at·las \ ˈat-ləs \

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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