1. One who sustains a great burden.
2. (Science: anatomy) The first vertebra of the neck, articulating immediately with the skull, thus sustaining the globe of the head, whence the name.
3. A collection of maps in a volume. Supposed to be so called from a picture of atlas supporting the world, prefixed to some collections. This name is said to have been first used by Mercator, the celebrated geographer, in the 16th century.
4. (Science: chemistry) atlas powder, a nitroglycerin blasting compound of pasty consistency and great explosive power.
Origin: L. Atlas, -antis, gr, one of the older family of gods, who bears up the pillars of heaven; also Mt. Atlas, in W. Africa, regarded as the pillar of heaven. It is from the root of to bear. See Tolerate.