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In terms, encyclopedia (LH:3), from enkyklios- meaning “circular” + -paideia (παιδεια) (NE:111), secret name: “[add]”, generally meaning “education, child-rearing", is a round or overall essential summary of general knowledge, or knowledge specific to a certain field or topic, written concisely, in a standalone manner, distilled or simplified enough to be readable at the basic educational level.


The following is a timeline of the main encyclopedic like works, proto-encyclopedias, or encyclopedias:[1]

Encyclopedia Articles Books Volumes Words[2] Years Editors Country
Collected Works of Aristotle 46 2 630K[3] c.350-322BC Aristotle Greece
Nine Books of Disciplines 116 BC-27 BC Marcus Varro Rome
Natural History 2,493 37 10 77-79AD Pliny the Elder Rome
Etymologies and Origins 20 636AD Isidore of Seville Spain
On the Nature of Things 51 703 Bede England
Vulgar Errors: Inquiries into very many Received Tenets and Commonly Presumed Truths 1646-1672 Thomas Browne England
The Great Art of Science 1669 Athanasius Kircher Germany
Historical and Critical Dictionary 3 1695-1702 Pierre Bayle France
Technical Lexicon: a Universal English Dictionary of Arts and Sciences: Explaining not only the Terms of Art, but the Arts Themselves[4] 3 1704-1744 John Harris England
Cyclopaedia: A Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences[5] 2 1728 Ephraim Chambers England
Great Complete Encyclopedia of All Sciences and Arts[6] 68 1731-1754 Johann Zedler German
Encyclopedia: Reasoned Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts and Crafts[7]
  • Diderot wrote: 7,000 articles (2M words)
  • Louis Jaucourt wrote: 12,266 articles (3.4M words)
71,818 17[8] or 28 20M 1751-1772 Denis Diderot
Jean Alembert (first 7 volumes)
Encyclopedia Britannica[9] 44M 1769-present Colin Macfarguhar
Andrew Bell
Chemical Dictionary 1795 William Nicholson England
World Book Encyclopedia[10] 8-22 1917-present J. H. Hansen
John Bellow
Michael O'Shea
MacTutor History of Mathematics[11] 2,800 1994-present John O'Connor
Edmund Robertson
Eric's Treasure Trove of Sciences; Eric Weisstein’s World of Science (turned: ScienceWorld); CRC Encyclopedia of Mathematics (turned: MathWorld)[12] 1995-2001 Eric Weisstein America
Wikipedia 6,300,000+ 3,800M+ 2001-present Jim Wales America
Hmolpedia 5,600+ 14+[13] 5M+[13] 2007-present Libb Thims America


The following are related quotes:

“The lesson of Bayle’s Critical and Historical Dictionary, in respect to cross-references and hiding objectionable material in the footnotes, via ambiguous subterfuge, was a valuable to the editors of Encyclopedia, in their planning of the great enterprise, for which they would have to write or commission and coordinate thousands of articles from hundreds of authors. While Chamber’s Cyclopedia gave the impetus for the project and suggested an alphabetical order from the start, reading Bayle had lent the enterprise its intellectual weight, its method, and its true, subversive potential. Diderot’s Encyclopedia would eventually span 17-volumes of text running to 18,000 page, more than 20 million words, and eleven volumes containing some 1,900 lavish and detailed engravings.”
Philipp Blom (2010), A Wicked Company (pgs. 45-46)[8]
Diderot is the patron saint of Wikipedia.”
Jimmy Wales (c.2018), “Comment to Andrew Curran”[14]

End matter


  1. List of encyclopedias by date – Wikipedia.
  2. Comparison of Encyclopedias – Wikipedia.
  3. (a) Aristotle, Volume One – ReadingLength.com. (b) Aristotle, Volume Two – ReadingLength.com.
  4. Note: the first alphabetical encyclopedia written in English.
  5. Note: this was the seed to Diderot's Encyclopedia.
  6. Note: one of the largest printed encyclopedias ever; the first to include existographies of existive people in a systematic way.
  7. Diderot, Denis; Alembert, Jean. (1751). Encyclopedia: Reasoned Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts and Crafts (Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers). Publisher, 1772.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Blom, Philipp. (2010). A Wicked Company: Holbach’s Salon and the Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment (Amz) (pgs. 45-46). McClelland, 2011.
  9. Note: conceived as a conservative reaction to the French encyclopedia.
  10. Note: designed to engage young readers and capture a child’s imagination; accompanied by thousands of illustrations.
  11. MacTutor History of Mathematics – Wikipedia.
  12. Note: subsumed in the 2000s into Wolfram Alpha search engine, of Stephen Wolfram.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Note: Hmolpedia 2016 was published (Mar 16) as a 10-volume set, based on 4,050 online articles, turned 6,496 printed pages, totaling 3,494,877-words; yielding a 0.00247 A/V ratio and a 0.00864 MW/A ratio.
  14. Curran, Andrew. (2019). “Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely” (YT), Talks at Google, Sep 5.

External links