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In terms, encyclopedia (LH:3), from enkyklios- meaning “circular” + -paideia meaning “education, child-rearing"[1], 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:[2]

Encyclopedia Articles Books Volumes Words[3]
Years Editors Country
Collected Works of Aristotle 46 2 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 1728 Ephraim Chambers England
Great Complete Encyclopedia of All Sciences and Arts[5] 68 1731-1754 Johann Zedler German
Encyclopedia: Reasoned Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts and Crafts[6] 71,818 28 20 1751-1772 Dennis Diderot
Jean Alembert
Encyclopedia Britannica[7] 44 1769-present Colin Macfarguhar
Andrew Bell
Chemical Dictionary 1795 William Nicholson England
World Book Encyclopedia[8] 8-22 1917-present J. H. Hansen
John Bellow
Michael O'Shea
Eric's Treasure Trove of Sciences; Eric Weisstein’s World of Science (turned: ScienceWorld); CRC Encyclopedia of Mathematics (turned: MathWorld)[9] 1995-2001 Eric Weisstein America
Wikipedia 6,300,000+ 3,800+ 2001-present Jim Wales America
Hmolpedia 5,600+ 14+[10] 5+[10] 2007-present Libb Thims America


  1. Encyclopedia – EtymOnline.com
  2. List of encyclopedias by date – Wikipedia.
  3. Comparison of Encyclopedias – Wikipedia.
  4. Note: the first alphabetical encyclopedia written in English.
  5. Note: one of the largest printed encyclopedias ever; the first to include existographies of existive people in a systematic way.
  6. 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.
  7. Note: conceived as a conservative reaction to the French encyclopedia.
  8. Note: designed to engage young readers and capture a child’s imagination; accompanied by thousands of illustrations.
  9. Note: subsumed in the 2000s into Wolfram Alpha search engine, of Stephen Wolfram.
  10. 10.0 10.1 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.

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