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atlas

Meaning: a book of maps

For example:

  • If you don't know the capital city of Texas, check the atlas.

  • Look in the index of the atlas to find the names of Manitoba's lakes.

Origin: Atlas was the god of astronomy and navigation in a group of ancient Greek gods called the Titans. When the Titans lost a battle against the Olympian gods for control of the heavens, Zeus, the Olympian leader, punished Atlas. Atlas was forced to hold the heavens on his shoulders. This mythological figure was often featured on the cover of early map collections. These books eventually became known as atlases. Atlas was generally depicted (wrongly) holding the world rather than the heavens on his shoulders.

Quick Quiz:

Why might someone need to consult an atlas?

a. to find the definition of a verb

b. to learn the name of a mountain

c. to find the temperature of a city

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Contributor: Tara Benwell