Title page of "Lucubrationes..." 1541 edition, the first book to use the word encyclopedia in the title

An encyclopedia or encyclopaedia is a reference work or compendium providing summaries of information from either all branches of knowledge or from a particular field or discipline. [1] Encyclopedias are divided into articles or entries that are often arranged alphabetically by article name [2] and sometimes by thematic categories. Encyclopedia entries are longer and more detailed than those in most dictionaries. [2] Generally speaking, unlike dictionary entries which focus on linguistic information about words, such as their meaning, pronunciation, use, and grammatical forms, encyclopedia articles focus on factual information concerning the subject named in the article’s title. [3] [4] [5] [6]

Encyclopedias have existed for around 2,000 years and have evolved considerably since that time as to language (written in a major international or a vernacular language), size (few or many volumes), intent (presentation of a global or a limited range of knowledge), cultural perceptions (authoritative, ideological, didactic, utilitarian), authorship (qualifications, style), readership (education level, background, interests, capabilities), and the technologies available for their production and distribution (hand-written manuscripts, small or large print runs, internet production). As a valued source of reliable information compiled by experts, printed versions found a prominent place in libraries, schools and other educational institutions.

The appearance of digital and open-source versions in the 20th century has vastly expanded the accessibility, authorship, readership, and variety of encyclopedia entries and called into question the idea of what an encyclopedia is and the relevance of applying to such dynamic productions the traditional criteria for assembling and evaluating print encyclopedias.


Indeed, the purpose of an encyclopedia is to collect knowledge disseminated around the globe; to set forth its general system to the men with whom we live, and transmit it to those who will come after us, so that the work of preceding centuries will not become useless to the centuries to come; and so that our offspring, becoming better instructed, will at the same time become more virtuous and happy, and that we should not die without having rendered a service to the human race in the future years to come.
Diderot [7]

The word encyclopedia comes from the Koine Greek ἐγκύκλιος παιδεία, [8] transliterated enkyklios paideia, meaning "general education" from enkyklios (ἐγκύκλιος), meaning "circular, recurrent, required regularly, general" [9] and paideia (παιδεία), meaning "education, rearing of a child"; [10] it was reduced to a single word due to an error [11] by copyists of Latin manuscripts. Together, the phrase literally translates as "complete instruction" or "complete knowledge".

Copyists of Latin manuscripts took this phrase to be a single Greek word, enkyklopaidia, with the same meaning, and this spurious Greek word became the New Latin word "encyclopaedia", which in turn came into English. Though the notion of a compendium of knowledge dates back thousands of years, the term was first used in the title of a book in 1517 by Johannes Aventinus: Encyclopedia orbisque doctrinarum, hoc est omnium artium, scientiarum, ipsius philosophiae index ac divisio, and in 1538 by Joachimus Fortius Ringelbergius, Lucubrationes vel potius absolutissima kyklopaideia.

Title page of Skalich's Encyclopaedia, seu orbis disciplinarum, tam sacrarum quam prophanarum, epistemon from 1559, first to use the word encyclopaedia as a noun in the title

The word encyclopaedia was first used as a noun in the title of his book by the Croatian encyclopedist Pavao Skalić in his Encyclopaedia seu orbis disciplinarum tam sacrarum quam prophanarum epistemon (Encyclopaedia, or Knowledge of the World of Disciplines, Basel, 1559). One of the oldest vernacular uses was by François Rabelais in his Pantagruel in 1532. [12] [13] Several encyclopedias have names that include the suffix -p(a)edia, e.g., Banglapedia (on matters relevant for Bangladesh).

Today in English, the word is most commonly spelled encyclopedia, though encyclopaedia ( from encyclopædia) is also used in Britain. [14]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Ensiklopedie
Alemannisch: Enzyklopädie
Ænglisc: Wīsdōmbōc
العربية: موسوعة
aragonés: Enciclopedia
armãneashti: Enciclopedie
asturianu: Enciclopedia
azərbaycanca: Ensiklopediya
bamanankan: Dɔnniyagafeba
বাংলা: বিশ্বকোষ
Bân-lâm-gú: Pek-kho-choân-su
Basa Banyumasan: Ensiklopedia
башҡортса: Энциклопедия
беларуская: Энцыклапедыя
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Энцыкляпэдыя
भोजपुरी: ज्ञानकोश
български: Енциклопедия
Boarisch: Enzyklopädie
bosanski: Enciklopedija
brezhoneg: Holloueziadur
català: Enciclopèdia
Чӑвашла: Энциклопеди
Cebuano: Ensiklopedya
čeština: Encyklopedie
Cymraeg: Gwyddoniadur
Deitsch: Uffguckbichli
Deutsch: Enzyklopädie
ދިވެހިބަސް: އެކުމާފާނު
Diné bizaad: Ínsadoobíídiiya
dolnoserbski: Encyklopedija
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Ensiclupedìa
español: Enciclopedia
Esperanto: Enciklopedio
euskara: Entziklopedia
فارسی: دانشنامه
Fiji Hindi: Encyclopedia
føroyskt: Alfrøði
français: Encyclopédie
Gaeilge: Ciclipéid
Gàidhlig: Leabhar-eòlais
galego: Enciclopedia
贛語: 百科全書
ગુજરાતી: જ્ઞાનકોશ
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Pak-khô-chhiòn-sû
한국어: 백과사전
Հայերեն: Հանրագիտարան
hornjoserbsce: Encyklopedija
hrvatski: Enciklopedija
Ilokano: Ensiklopedia
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: বিশ্বকোষ
Bahasa Indonesia: Ensiklopedia
interlingua: Encyclopedia
íslenska: Alfræðirit
italiano: Enciclopedia
Basa Jawa: Ènsiklopédhi
kalaallisut: Encyklopædi
къарачай-малкъар: Энциклопедия
कॉशुर / کٲشُر: اِنسیکُلوپیٖڈیا
kaszëbsczi: Encyklopedijô
қазақша: Энциклопедия
kernowek: Godhoniador
Kiswahili: Kamusi elezo
Kreyòl ayisyen: Ansiklopedi
Ladino: Ansiklopedya
latgaļu: Eņciklopedeja
latviešu: Enciklopēdija
Lëtzebuergesch: Enzyklopedie
lietuvių: Enciklopedija
Limburgs: Encyclopedie
lumbaart: Enciclupedia
македонски: Енциклопедија
Malagasy: Raki-pahalalana
मराठी: ज्ञानकोश
მარგალური: ენციკლოპედია
مصرى: موسوعه
مازِرونی: فرهنگنومه
Bahasa Melayu: Ensiklopedia
Baso Minangkabau: Ensiklopedia
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Báik-kuŏ-ciòng-cṳ̆
Mirandés: Anciclopédia
မြန်မာဘာသာ: စွယ်စုံကျမ်း
Nederlands: Encyclopedie
Nedersaksies: Ensyklopedie
नेपाली: विश्वकोश
日本語: 百科事典
Napulitano: Enciclopedía
нохчийн: Энциклопеди
norsk nynorsk: Leksikon
Nouormand: Encycliopédie
occitan: Enciclopèdia
олык марий: Энциклопедий
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ଜ୍ଞାନକୋଷ
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Ensiklopediya
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਵਿਸ਼ਵਕੋਸ਼
Papiamentu: Ensiklopedia
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ប្រជុំវីជ្ជា
Tok Pisin: Ensaiklopedia
Plattdüütsch: Enzyklopädie
polski: Encyklopedia
português: Enciclopédia
Ripoarisch: Nohkixel
română: Enciclopedie
русиньскый: Енціклопедія
русский: Энциклопедия
саха тыла: Энциклопедия
संस्कृतम्: विश्वकोशः
Seeltersk: Enzyklopädie
sicilianu: Nciclupidìa
Simple English: Encyclopedia
slovenčina: Encyklopédia
slovenščina: Enciklopedija
словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ: Єнкѷклопєдїꙗ
ślůnski: Yncyklopedyjo
српски / srpski: Енциклопедија
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Enciklopedija
Basa Sunda: Énsiklopédi
svenska: Uppslagsverk
Tagalog: Ensiklopedya
tarandíne: 'Ngeclopedije
татарча/tatarça: Энциклопедия
Türkçe: Ansiklopedi
українська: Енциклопедія
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: Énsklopédiye
vèneto: Ençiclopedia
Tiếng Việt: Bách khoa toàn thư
Volapük: Sikloped
文言: 百科全書
Winaray: Ensayklopedya
Wolof: Jimbulang
吴语: 百科全书
Xitsonga: Encyclopediya
粵語: 百科全書
žemaitėška: Encikluopedėjė
中文: 百科全书