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or encyclopaedia

[en-sahy-kluh-pee-dee-uh] /ɛnˌsaɪ kləˈpi di ə/
a book, set of books, optical disc, mobile device, or online informational resource containing articles on various topics, usually in alphabetical arrangement, covering all branches of knowledge or, less commonly, all aspects of one subject.
(initial capital letter) the French work edited by Diderot and D'Alembert, published in the 18th century, distinguished by its representation of the views of the Enlightenment.
Origin of encyclopedia
1525-35; < New Latin encyclopaedia < Greek enkyklopaidía, a misreading of enkýklios paideía circular (i.e., well-rounded) education. See encyclical, pedo-1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for encyclopedia
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If you will look in the encyclopedia Donkaniara you will find I'm correct.

    The Road to Oz L. Frank Baum
  • The books are large, about the size of a volume of an encyclopedia.

    Story of My Life Helen Keller
  • Any encyclopedia and many books of legends will tell you more about Roland.

  • He was certain it could be found in one of his father's books, if not in the encyclopedia.

  • It was in this establishment that he worked on his encyclopedia.

    All About Coffee William H. Ukers
British Dictionary definitions for encyclopedia


a book, often in many volumes, containing articles on various topics, often arranged in alphabetical order, dealing either with the whole range of human knowledge or with one particular subject: a medical encyclopedia
Word Origin
C16: from New Latin encyclopaedia, erroneously for Greek enkuklios paideia general education, from enkuklios general (see encyclical), + paideia education, from pais child
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for encyclopedia

1530s, "course of instruction," from Modern Latin encyclopaedia (c.1500), thought to be a false reading by Latin authors of Greek enkyklios paideia taken as "general education," but literally "training in a circle," i.e. the "circle" of arts and sciences, the essentials of a liberal education; from enkyklios "circular," also "general" (from en "in" + kyklos "circle") + paideia "education, child-rearing," from pais (genitive paidos) "child" (see pedo-).

Modern sense of "reference work arranged alphabetically" is from 1640s, often applied specifically to the French "Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences, des Arts, et des Métiers" (1751-65).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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