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

Like fireworks, the books on display come in various sizes, from Bate’s paperback-sized guide to large atlases with fold-out illustrations. John Kelly, Washington Post, "Remembering when emperors planned their own extravagant fireworks displays," 3 July 2019 Cloud atlas Clouds generally form within the troposphere, or the layer of atmosphere closest to the earth. Catherine Zuckerman, National Geographic, "Clouds, explained," 24 Apr. 2019 An international team of scientists has created the world's first global coral reef atlas. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "New Atlas Captures Conditions of Nearly One-Fourth of World's Coral," 25 Apr. 2019 Stay prepared with a road atlas, like the classic Rand McNally version ($14.95). Megan Barber, Curbed, "The ultimate van life shopping guide," 14 Nov. 2018 The atlas also honed his ability to find countries on the map. Allie Caren, Washington Post, "Meet the 6-year-old who can name every country — in alphabetical order," 5 July 2018 Nothing prevents or discourages girls from vacuuming up the details of an atlas. Heather Mac Donald, WSJ, "Sorry, Feminists, Men Are Better at Scrabble," 16 Nov. 2018 That's still the only rebranding to stay permanently in the road atlas—unless this tiny Florida town is serious about being named for condiment. Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, "Mayo, Florida Was Just Renamed for a Different Condiment," 24 Sep. 2018 There's benzoin and rose honey in there, plus incense absolute, ylang ylang, cumin, atlas cedar, and sandalwood. Sarah Wu, Glamour, "I Replaced My $215 Perfume With This $6 Body Wash," 19 Oct. 2018

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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Statistics for atlas

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for atlas

The first known use of atlas was in 1583

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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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an act or instance of editing or removing

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