"collection of maps in a volume," 1636, first in the title of the English translation of "Atlas, sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi" (1585) by Flemish geographer Gerhardus Mercator, who might have been the first to use this word in this way. A picture of the titan Atlas holding up the world appears on the frontispiece of this and other early map collections.
"carved, robed female figure used as a column," 1560s, from French cariatide, from Latin caryatides, from Greek Karyatides (singular Karyatis) "priestesses of Artemis at Caryae" (Greek Karyai), a town in Laconia where dance festivals were held in Artemis' temple. Male figures in a like situation are Atlantes, plural of Atlas. Related: Caryatic.
early 15c., Atlantyke, "of or pertaining to the sea off the west coast of Africa," from Latin Atlanticus, from Greek Atlantikos "of Atlas," adjectival form of Atlas (genitive Atlantos) as used in reference to Mount Atlas in Mauritania (see Atlas). The name has been extended since c. 1600 to the ocean between Europe and Africa, on one side, and the Americas on the other. As a noun late 14c., Athlant, from Old French Atlante.
Roman goddess of fertility, Latin Maia, literally "she who brings increase," from PIE *mag-ya- "she who is great" (suffixed form of root *meg- "great"). Maia, one of the Pleiades, is from Greek Maia, daughter of Atlas, mother of Hermes, literally "mother, good mother, dame; foster-mother, nurse, midwife," said by Watkins to be from infant babbling (see mamma). The maiasaura dinosaur is so called from 1979, in reference to the fossil preservation of its nesting colonies.
c. 1300, from Latin alpha, from Greek alpha, from Hebrew or Phoenician aleph (see aleph). The Greeks added -a because Greek words cannot end in most consonants.
The sense of "beginning" of anything is from late 14c., and in this it is often paired with omega (the last letter in the Greek alphabet, representing "the end"). The sense of "first in a sequence" is from 1620s. In astronomy, the designation of the brightest star of each constellation (the use of Greek letters in star names began with Bayer's atlas in 1603). Alpha male was in use by c. 1960 among scientists studying animals; applied to humans in society from c. 1992.
"smooth, lustrous silken cloth; silk fabric with a very glossy surface and the back less so," mid-14c., from Old French satin (14c.), perhaps from Arabic (atlas) zaytuni, literally "(satin) from Zaitun," name of a place in China, perhaps modern Quanzhou in Fukien province, a major port in the Middle Ages with a resident community of European traders.
On this theory the form of the word was influenced in French by Latin seta "silk." OED finds the Arabic connection etymologically untenable and takes the French word as being from Latin seta via a Late Latin or Vulgar Latin *pannus setinus "silken cloth."
As an adjective from mid-15c., "made of silk." By c. 1600 as "clothed in satin;" by 1826 as "resembling satin."
Cognates include Greek talantos "bearing, suffering," tolman "to carry, bear," telamon "broad strap for bearing something," talenton "a balance, pair of scales," Atlas "the 'Bearer' of Heaven;" Lithuanian tiltas "bridge;" Sanskrit tula "balance," tulayati "lifts up, weighs;" Latin tolerare "to bear, support," perhaps also latus "borne;" Old English þolian "to endure;" Armenian tolum "I allow." Figurative sense of "praise highly" in English is first attested c. 1500. Related: Extolled; extolling.