- Word History, Word Explorer
|part of speech:
||(cap.) a giant in Greek mythology who had to support the heavens on his shoulders.
||a book of maps, tables, or charts.
We turned to the page in the atlas that showed a map of Canada.
Greek mythology tells of a giant whose punishment was to hold up the universe on his shoulders. This giant's name was Atlas
. Artists drew pictures of Atlas holding up a globe that was meant to be the heavens. In the 1600s, a mapmaker named Mercator used such a picture on the cover of his book of maps. A collection of maps became known as an "atlas."