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atlas

at·las

atlas

 
 
pronunciation:
aet lihs
features:
Word History, Word Explorer
part of speech: noun
definition 1: (cap.) in Greek mythology, a Titan condemned to support the heavens on his shoulders.
definition 2: (cap.) any person who carries a heavy burden.
definition 3: a book of maps, tables, charts, or the like.
We consulted an atlas to find lakes near our destination.
definition 4: the top vertebra of the neck.
definition 5: an architectural column in the form of a man.
Word History
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."
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  book, geography, myth