A set of encyclopedias.
The Encyclopedia Britannica is an example of an encyclopedia.
- a book or set of books giving information on all or many branches of knowledge, generally in articles alphabetically arranged
- a similar work giving information in a particular field of knowledge: an encyclopedia of philosophy
Origin of encyclopediaModern Latin (1508) encyclopaedia ; from Classical Greek enkyklopaideia, false reading for enkyklios paideia, instruction in the circle of the arts and sciences ; from enkyklios (en-, in + kyklos, a circle: see cycle) in a circle, general + paideia, education ; from paideuein, to educate, bring up a child ; from pais (gen. paidos), child: see pedo-
Origin of encyclopediaMedieval Latin encyclopaedia, general education course, from alteration of Greek enkuklios paideia, general education : enkuklios, circular, general; see encyclical + paideia, education (from pais, paid-, child; see pau-1 in Indo-European roots).
(plural encyclopedias or encyclopediae or encyclopediæ)
- A comprehensive reference work (often spanning several printed volumes) with in-depth articles (usually arranged in alphabetical order, or sometimes arranged by category) on a range of subjects, sometimes general, sometimes limited to a particular field.
- I only use the library for the encyclopedia, as we’ve got most other books here.
- His life's work was a four-volume encyclopedia of aviation topics.
- (dated) The circle of arts and sciences; a comprehensive summary of knowledge, or of a branch of knowledge.
The spelling encyclopedia is standard in American English, preferred in Canadian English, accepted in Australian and International English, and also very common in British English. It is more common than encyclopaedia, for example, in UK newspapers on Google News in 2009 by a 7:3 margin.
- encyclopedic dictionary
From Latin encyclopaedia, from Ancient Greek ἐγκύκλιος παιδεία (enkuklios paideia, “the circle of arts and sciences, curriculum”), from ἐγκύκλιος (enkuklios, “circular, rounded, round”), from κύκλος (kuklos, “circle”) + παιδεία (paideia, “the rearing of a child, education”), from παιδίον (paidion, “child”).