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Volumes 5–12 of the Encyclopedia Americana (covering topics from Bulgaria to Goethals) in the SUB Library at the University of Göttingen, Germany

Alternative forms[edit]


From New Latin encyclopēdīa (general education), variant of encyclopaedīa, a univerbated form of Koine Greek ἐγκύκλιος παιδείᾱ (enkúklios paideíā, education in the circle of arts and sciences), from Ancient Greek ἐγκύκλιος (enkúklios, circular) + παιδείᾱ (paideíā, childrearing; education), q.v. Nearly all modern English use of the word influenced by the scope and format of Diderot & al.'s French Encyclopédie.


  • (Canada) IPA(key): /ənˌsəɪ.kləˈpi.di.ə/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ɪnˌsaɪ.kləˈpi(ː).dɪə/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ɪnˌsaɪ.kləˈpi(ː).di.ə/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːdiə
  • Hyphenation: en‧cy‧clo‧pe‧di‧a


encyclopedia (plural encyclopedias or encyclopediae or encyclopediæ)

  1. A comprehensive reference work (often spanning several printed volumes) with 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 is a four-volume encyclopedia of aviation topics.
  2. Similarly comprehensive works in other formats.
    Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia anyone can edit.[citation needed]
  3. (dated) The circle of arts and sciences; a comprehensive summary of knowledge, or of a branch of knowledge.

Usage notes[edit]

The spelling encyclopedia is standard in American English, common in Canadian English, accepted in Australian and International English, and also very common in British English although nonstandard.

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