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Word for Wednesday: Atlas

Our Word for Wednesday theme for June is words that derive from Greek mythology. Our first word of the month is atlas

An atlas is a book that contains a collection of maps. Here is atlas used in some example sentences: 

  • The Geography teacher gave each student an atlas
  • The shelves were filled with globes and atlases.
  • An atlas was published to accompany the fantasy series so that readers could see maps of the different magical lands.

The word gets his name from the story of Atlas who, with his brother Menoetius, fought alongside the Titans in in a war against the Olympians. When they were defeated, Zeus, the King of the Gods, condemned Atlas to hold up the heavens on his shoulders as punishment.

In English, Atlas has been used in reference to the mythological figure since the 1580s. The first appearance of the word in reference to a volume of maps was in the English translation of Flemish geographer Gerhardus Mercator’s 1585 'Atlas, sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi. Early atlases often included a picture of Atlas holding up the world.

01 Jun 2022
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