Definition of encyclopedia in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɛnˌsʌɪklə(ʊ)ˈpiːdɪə/
Pronunciation: /ɪnˌsʌɪklə(ʊ)ˈpiːdɪə/
(also encyclopaedia)


A book or set of books giving information on many subjects or on many aspects of one subject and typically arranged alphabetically.
Example sentences
  • If you are unable to find a biography, check an encyclopedia or reference book at your library.
  • Some of my favorite books are old, gorgeously illustrated encyclopedias and atlases.
  • The wooden headboard held many books including, the Bible, a dictionary, encyclopedias, books, songs, and poems she had written.


Mid 16th century: modern Latin, from pseudo-Greek enkuklopaideia for enkuklios paideia 'all-round education'.

  • An encyclopedia is literally a ‘circle of learning’. In ancient Greece a child was expected to receive a good all-round education, an enkuklios paideia in Greek. The word came to be spelled enkuklopaideia and made its way into English in the 1530s. Its first English meaning was ‘general course of instruction’, the meaning ‘large work of reference’ not appearing until 1644. The Latin-style spelling encyclopaedia is still sometimes used, partly because some encyclopedias, notably the Encyclopaedia Britannica (first published in 1768), use it in their title.

Words that rhyme with encyclopedia

acedia, media, multimedia

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: en|cyclo|pe¦dia

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