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.
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.