Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A book or bound collection of maps, sometimes with supplementary illustrations and graphic analyses.
  • n. A volume of tables, charts, or plates that systematically illustrates a particular subject: an anatomical atlas.
  • n. A large size of drawing paper, measuring 26 × 33 or 26 × 34 inches.
  • n. Architecture A standing or kneeling figure of a man used as a supporting column, as for an entablature or balcony.
  • n. Anatomy The top or first cervical vertebra of the neck, which supports the skull.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A bound collection of maps often including tables, illustrations or other text.
  • n. A bound collection of tables, illustrations etc. on any given subject.
  • n. A detailed visual conspectus of something of great and multi-faceted complexity, with its elements splayed so as to be presented in as discrete a manner as possible whilst retaining a realistic view of the whole.
  • n. A collection of top-dimensional subspaces, called charts, each homeomorphic to Euclidean space, which comprise the entirety of a manifold, such that intersecting charts' respective homeomorphisms are compatible in a certain way.
  • n. The uppermost vertebra of the neck.
  • n. One who supports a heavy burden; mainstay.
  • n. A figure of a man used as a column; telamon.
  • n. A sheet of paper measuring 26 inches by 34 inches.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who sustains a great burden.
  • n. The first vertebra of the neck, articulating immediately with the skull, thus sustaining the globe of the head, whence the name.
  • n. A collection of maps in a volume.
  • n. A volume of plates illustrating any subject.
  • n. A work in which subjects are exhibited in a tabular from or arrangement.
  • n. A large, square folio, resembling a volume of maps; -- called also atlas folio.
  • n. A drawing paper of large size. See under Paper, n.
  • n. A rich kind of satin manufactured in India.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. [capitalized] One who supports a heavy burden; a mainstay; a ‘pillar.’
  • n. [Pl. atlantes (at-lan′ -tēz).] A male human figure serving as a column or pilaster. See atlantes.
  • n. [NL.] In anatomy, the first cervical vertebra, by which the skull articulates with the spinal column: so called because it supports the head, as Atlas was fabled to uphold the sky.
  • n. A bound collection of maps.
  • n. Hence A volume of plates or tables illustrative or explanatory of some subject.
  • n. A size of writing- or drawing-paper, 26 by 33 or 34 inches.
  • n. [NL.] In entomology, a large lamellicorn beetle of the family Scarabæidæ; the atlas beetle, Chalcosoma atlas, about 3 inches long, and of a brilliant metallic-green color.
  • n. A kind of satin: a word formerly used in the Levant and in India.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the 1st cervical vertebra
  • n. a figure of a man used as a supporting column
  • n. (Greek mythology) a Titan who was forced by Zeus to bear the sky on his shoulders
  • n. a collection of maps in book form

Etymologies

After Atlas, probably from depictions of him holding the world on his shoulders that appeared on the frontispieces of early works of this kind.
From Atlas.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the name of the Ancient Greek mythological figure Ἄτλας (Atlas, "Bearer (of the Heavens)"), from τλῆναι (tlēnai, "to suffer”, “to endure”, “to bear"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This atlas is an interactive mosaic of 14 aerial photographs of the Necropolis from 1979.

    Archive 2007-02-01

  • You flex the head forward as far as it will go, then you push a broad needle or a thin scalpel into what we call the atlas, the first cervical vertebra.

    Autumn Maze

  • The volume was painstakingly compiled by hand in the 16th century by Flemish mapmaker Gerardus Mercator, the man believed to have coined the term "atlas" for a collection of maps.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • If it's your spouse, you go have sex in atlas while everyone is out walking around with their moms.

    Una LaMarche: Project Runway Episode 10 Recap: The Fabric of Their Lives

  • Here's a brain atlas papercraft that many students especially those in the medical field will find useful and interesting.

    Brain Atlas Papercraft | Papercraft Paradise | PaperCrafts | Paper Models | Card Models

  • The Guia Roji atlas is a very good compendium of maps.

    MIssing pieces on Roji Atlas map??? Can't be...

  • Went to Beverly Hills today and looked at some stars 'homes (will blog about this soon in atlas (t).)

    Still in L.A.

  • The atlas is not expensive but you may not be able to accept delivery before you leave.

    Movin' on to PV--

  • Cervical one, the topmost vertebra, is called the atlas because it carries the world upon its shoulders.

    Deeper

  • Note that in the Peoplesguide article, they say that (at least in 2000) "the Spanish atlas is identical in content to the English version, but have a noticeable edge in overall readability -- the colors are more vivid in the Spanish atlas and the contrast is sharper."

    Guia Roji

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