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encyclopedia

or en·cy·clo·pae·di·a

[en-sahy-kluh-pee-dee-uh]
noun
  1. 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.
  2. (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.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for encyclopaedia

Historical Examples of encyclopaedia


British Dictionary definitions for encyclopaedia

encyclopedia

encyclopaedia

noun
  1. 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 subjecta medical encyclopedia
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Word Origin for encyclopedia

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

Word Origin and History for encyclopaedia

n.

see encyclopedia. The Latin spelling survives as a variant because many of the most prominent ones (e.g. Britannica) have Latin names.

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encyclopedia

n.

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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper