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a bound collection of maps.
a bound volume of charts, plates, or tables illustrating any subject.
Anatomy. the first cervical vertebra, which supports the head.
a size of drawing or writing paper, 26 × 34 or 33 inches.
Also called telamon. Architecture. a sculptural figure of a man used as a column.
Classical Mythology. a Titan, son of Iapetus and brother of Prometheus and Epimetheus, condemned to support the sky on his shoulders: identified by the ancients with the Atlas Mountains.
a person who supports a heavy burden; a mainstay.
Charles (Angelo Siciliano) 1894–1972, U.S. body-building advocate, born in Italy.
a liquid-propellant booster rocket, originally developed as the first U.S. ICBM, used with Agena or Centaur upper stages to launch satellites into orbit around the earth and send probes to the moon and planets; also used to launch the Mercury spacecraft into orbit around the earth.
Contemporary Examples

One source was a 1950s Rand McNally atlas he picked up on a stoop on Clinton Street.
Mapping the Art World Anthony Haden-Guest December 23, 2009

Her blog, atlas Shrugs, is a mishmash of her inane views on a wide range of social and political issues.
The Charlatans Have Taken Over 9/11 Reza Aslan September 8, 2010

Paul Ryan, meanwhile, has remained steadfast in his adoration of atlas Shrugged.
The Search for Serious Literary Fiction for Republicans James McGirk November 4, 2012

The plane bore a massive blue-and-gold image of atlas balancing the globe on his back.
How I’ll End the War: The Trip Over to Afghanistan Nick Willard April 22, 2014

And Alan Greenspan, clutching a copy of atlas Shrugged, boils in a bath of molten gold.
Pope Francis Declares Consumers and Capitalists Need to Help the Poor Daniel Gross November 25, 2013

Historical Examples

Of Africa we know only the coasts; all the interior is no more known than it was in the times of atlas and Hercules.
A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 5 (of 10) Franois-Marie Arouet (AKA Voltaire)

The whole rested on a golden image of atlas, bending beneath the weight.
Philothea Lydia Maria Child

She brought out an atlas and turned to a map of the United States.
Peggy in Her Blue Frock Eliza Orne White

“None of them are quite high enough,” said atlas, shaking his head.
The Three Golden Apples Nathaniel Hawthorne

atlas, in Greek mythology, the name of a Titan whom Zeus condemned to bear the vault of heaven.
The New Gresham Encyclopedia. Vol. 1 Part 2 Various

a collection of maps, usually in book form
a book of charts, graphs, etc, illustrating aspects of a subject: an anatomical atlas
(anatomy) the first cervical vertebra, attached to and supporting the skull in man Compare axis1
(architect) (pl) atlantes another name for telamon
a standard size of drawing paper, 26 × 17 inches
(Greek myth) a Titan compelled to support the sky on his shoulders as punishment for rebelling against Zeus
a US intercontinental ballistic missile, also used in launching spacecraft
(astronomy) a small satellite of Saturn, discovered in 1980

1580s, Titan, son of Iapetus and Clymene, supposed to uphold the pillars of heaven, which was his punishment for being the war leader of the Titans in the struggle with the Olympian gods. The name in Greek perhaps means “The Bearer (of the Heavens),” from a-, copulative prefix, + stem of tlenai “to bear,” from PIE root *tele- “to lift, support, weigh.” Mount Atlas, in Mauritania, was important in Greek cosmology as a support of the heavens.

“collection of maps in a volume,” 1636, first in reference to the English translation of “Atlas, sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi” (1585) by Flemish geographer Gerhardus Mercator (1512-1594), who might have been the first to use this word in this way. A picture of the Titan Atlas holding up the world appeared on the frontispiece of this and other early map collections.

atlas at·las (āt’ləs)
The top or first cervical vertebra of the neck, supporting the skull and articulating with the occipital bone and rotating around the dens of the axis.

In classical mythology, a Titan famous for his strength. After the defeat of the Titans by Zeus, Atlas was condemned to support the Earth and sky on his shoulders for eternity.

Note: Since the sixteenth century, pictures of Atlas and his burden have been used as decorations on maps. Accordingly, the word atlas is used for a book of maps.

Note: An “Atlas” or “atlas” is an incredibly strong person or one who carries an enormous burden.

A bound collection of maps. Atlases are named after the Greek god Atlas.

Abbreviated Test Language for Avionics Systems
[National Aeronautics and Space Administration] Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science


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    an evergreen tree, Cedrus atlantica, native to northern Africa, having in its widely cultivated forms bluish-green leaves and light-brown cones.

  • Atlas mountains

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  • Atlatl

    (def 2). Historical Examples B is walking with the atlatl in his hand, and armed with javelins. Commentary on the Maya Manuscript in the Royal Public Library of Dresden Ernst Frsteman An atlatl was the weapon which had replaced the stone axe in the stone age. The Hohokam Dig Theodore Pratt This suggests, of course, […]

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