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Mention of Wikipedia should be removed from this article. According to this article, an encyclopedia is a compendium of knowledge, whereas Wikipedia is simply a mass storage of mostly miscellaneous information. Of course, this is by design, or put another way, Wikipedia is incapable of making the distinction between knowledge and information. Since Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia, it should not be mentioned in this article. (talk) 19:30, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

  • Disagree. I have no idea why you would say that Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia. "Wikipedia is a free, collaborative, multilingual Internet encyclopedia." Not much more to this conversation. LogicalCreator (talk) 20:50, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Disagree. Just ask 10 or 100 random people this question: which is the encyclopedia that you usually use? Also some reputable source says so: — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kresp0 (talkcontribs) 00:41, 28 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Disagree. Though that doesn't change the fact that this page isn't entirely NPOV. The entire "21st century" section focuses on Wikipedia, with only a small piece about Britannica, especially considering Wikipedia having a list of 155 internet encyclopedias. A vast majority of the page is dominated w/ mentions of only "Wikipedia," where other encyclopedias would have just as much relevance.


The dictionary states that an Encyclopedia is "a book or set of books containing articles on various topics, usually in alphabetical arrangement, covering all branches of knowledge or, less commonly, all aspects of one subject."

However, I was told that an Encyclopedia is a collection of opinions on different subjects and their respectable branches.

After viewing a few articles, I've noticed that more on Wikipedia, the POV overrides the truth. That being, in some articles, there is no attempt to show the other side of an argument, and some articles seem to have exclusively one side, and any attempt to change it is usually reverted. Even when credible sources are given, sometimes, they aren't accepted by some users even if they meet the criteria.

So it seems like to me only about half of Wikipedia follows the first definition, while the rest follows the second one I've heard.

This isn't really a complaint as much as it is a notation by me.

But it does raise a question, and if answered I'd appreciate a simple response if possible, is any one definition favored over the other or does Wikipedia stride under the common definition?VisioNaryD (talk) 07:38, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

Regardless of whether Wikipedia currently or ever in the future achieves its goal, it meets the first definition by design and intent. The nature of a reference that "anyone can edit" (and I mean ANYONE) is that it will forever be in flux between scholarly work and fanatical scrapbook. I have no intention of entertaining your uncited anecdotal definition. --OGRastamon (talk) 15:03, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

UK usage of Encyclopedia[edit]

The UK, in practice, uses "encyclopedia" justs like the USA. It is considered the modern spelling. For evidence see Oxford University Press - Encyclopedia. This is the same University that published the OED. The days of England using ae are history. See also similar discussion on "Medieval" at Wikipedia:WikiProject Middle Ages/British spelling of Medieval. Webster's is outdated. --Stbalbach 00:52, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

Yes, but why did you delete my comment? American dictionaries say that "encyclopaedia" is "chiefly British," meaning that it's mostly used in Britain. This does not imply that it's widely used; it might be used a little, but in the U.S. is practically never used, and that's what makes it chiefly British. This aside, data from the British National Corpus (1990s) give almost equal frequencies for "encyclopedia" and "encyclopaedia." My comment was in fact about U.S. (not UK) usage of the word, and Webster's is not wrong IMO. --JackLumber 07:10, 14 April 2006 (UTC)
You could interpret it that way; but if you read it literally, like most people do/will, it says the British chiefly use the ae spelling. Webster's is not an authority, there are all sorts of dictionaries, why this particular one? Also this is an encyclopedia, not a dictionary, we draw from any and all sources to determine article content, it's not like dictionaries have special authority that trumps others, they are just one piece. In fact dictionaries suffer from the same problem of all print media, they become out of date. Finally this is the English Wikipedia so we write for a broader audience not just the USA. --Stbalbach 14:50, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

The following phrase in the article note:

... although rarely so, the modern British spelling of encyclopedia is the same as in the US.

is unsupported by references provided, uncorroborated, and contradicted by the commentary above; it is also unclear given the prior clause. Until its validity can be demonstrated, I will continue to remove this contentious phrase. And users should think twice before supporting and (re)adding nonsense to articles by pointing the finger. E Pluribus Anthony | talk | 02:53, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

No one in the UK publishes material today using the ae spelling of encyclopedia except in rare cases - it is simply outdated. I've show so with numerous links -- if the current catalog of the Oxford University Press (publishers of the OED) is not good enough for you, what exactly do you want? If you can show publishers in the UK using "ae" on recently published works, please show me. The commentary above only shows that it was done in the past, and done so today only rarely. As for the "prior clause", I guess you are referring to the "chiefly british" line? that is an American dictionary talking about it's usage in America, and saying where you see it at all, would be in Britain. But it says nothing about how common its usage is in the UK, not to mention it is out of date. -- Stbalbach 03:06, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
That is not the point: this is an opinion that, no matter how true it might be, is unsourced – provide a reference to support this claim. Though neither search of this sole publisher is authoritative, a counter-search reveals numerous current (fewer) instances of "encyclopaedia". You might be able to demonstrate this or that with links, but it does not prove what the 'modern' British spelling is and, thus, is unverifiable. (Note: I've no difficulty including verifiable notions per Webster's or any reputable source.) If anything: the syntax of this phrase given the prior one is, effectively, gibberish ... and little above allays that. E Pluribus Anthony | talk | 03:11, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
<indent follows to left>

According to the OED (2nd ed 1989) twin entry for "encyclopædia/encyclopedia" it says:

The spelling with æ has been preserved from becoming obs. by the fact that many of the works so called have Latin titles, as Encyclopædia Britannica

Meaning, if it has a Latin title (Britannica is Latin), than the Latin spelling is preserved, otherwise it would be obsolete. "ae" is just a typeset issue for the Latin æ (the OED does not even list "ae" at all, just "æ"). In fact we should not be using "ae" in Wikipedia since we have the font available for æ -- Stbalbach 04:15, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

Better; thank you! I've tweaked the revised edition: viz. "many", not all, and readding the notation regarding the permissibility of both spellings in the OED and Webster's.
Stemming from that, "encyclopedia ... (also encyclopaedia)" is indicated in the entry, at least, for my 2001 single-volume edition of the New Oxford Dictionary of English (ISBN 0-19-860441-6) – which is partially produced using the Arial font (as indicated upfront) – so arguably ae is still appropriate to use in any venue and we should when necessary (e.g., citations). E Pluribus Anthony | talk | 06:59, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
Ok looks good. Can we safely say that the "æ" is still preserved, but in names that are Latin? (the "product name" thing is something I made up earlier not realizing the Latin name explanation from OED). And that "ae" is simply a typesetting short-cut for æ? (what else is it?). -- Stbalbach 17:56, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
Great. Well, it isn't preserved merely in Latin names, hence my change. Arguably, EB is a Latin holdover but is an English title. The same can be said (even more so) for lengthy/combination titles: The Oxford Encyclopaedia of European Community Law, for example. We've sufficiently covered off on the ligature issue here. methinks: added details can/should be dealt with in the dedicated article (the character is called "ash") instead. E Pluribus Anthony | talk | 20:45, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

Wikipaedia (wikipædia?) - where common sense is defined but not applied. flux.books 13:00, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

In every single non-american book I've read it has been spelled encyclopaedia. Although one very recent wildlife encylclopaedia CD did spell it encyclopedia, but for some reason used american spellings alongside british ones in some cases. 01:17, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

I'm aware this has been dead for a while, but I'd just like to add that while publishers may be normalising the spelling of encyclopaedia to the American spelling (something which is happening in many other cases to assure a world-wide "standard" English), I am yet to see someone from the UK using "encyclopedia" in place of "encyclopaedia" in normal usage. In fact, I have to tell myself NOT to put the "a" in when accessing Wikipedia. I know this gives no proof, but it's just my experience of the way the word is used in this country. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:57, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

Again I'd just like to add my weight to the use of 'encyclopaedia' certainly not being "outdated" in the UK as some are suggesting and is in fact (apart from online) the only spelling I ever come across in the UK. The non-US books I have checked all use 'encyclopaedia' and a quick check on two British websites - BBC News and The Times Online - also show the use of 'encyclopaedia' in every case. (I still all too often type 'Wikipaedia' in my browser too...) 14:28, 22 September 2007 (UTC)


User: has been given notice on his talk page concerning WP:3RR; his edits today appear to be in violation. I haven't (yet) written him up at WP:ANI, but any subsequent revisions of the article likely merit a block. --EngineerScotty 23:17, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

encyclopedia etymology[edit]

According to this books time-line of encyclopedias: [1]

1541 Ringelbach uses the word "Encyclopaedia" in the title of his Lucubrationes

..which is half-right, it is not "Ringelbach" but "Joachimus Fortius Ringelbergius" (or "Ringelberg") who published "Lucubrationes vel potius absolutissima kyklopaideia" (Basle, 1541). -- Stbalbach 01:51, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

  • Right now, it says the word was first used in 1541. The word was used in French in 1532 by François Rabelais in his Pantagruel to describe a general education.[2] The OED says it was used in English in 1531 by Sir Thomas Elyot in The boke named The gouernour: "The circle of in one worde of greke Encyclopedia." According to The circle of knowledge; encyclopaedias past and present, compiled and with an introductory essay by James M. Wells. in Greek times enklikios paedia was used to describe a general education. Writers like Aristotle are called "encyclopedic writers" because of the broadness of their writing. The Espasa says that Ringelbergius was the first to use it in a title of a work.--Primetime 03:44, 5 May 2006 (UTC) P.S. I just checked and it looks like Elyot was the first to combine the two words. P.P.S. Maybe I'm wrong. Sources conflict, so I'll leave it alone.
With tweaks, this works for me. I was actually going to comment on this after reading the 1911 v. of EB, but I lacked the willpower at the time. ;) E Pluribus Anthony | talk | 07:32, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Recent etymology addition[edit]

Regarding this recent etymology addition:

The word had already been recorded in English in 1531[citation needed], meaning "course of construction," thought to be a false reading by Latin authors of the Greek enkyklios paideia taken as "general education". The modern sense of a "reference work arranged alphabetically" is from 1644[citation needed](though it has a precursor in Antiquity, the Origines by St. Isodorus of Seville), and is also often applied specifically to the French "Encylopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences, des Artes, et des Métiers" (1751-65), long known as 'the' Encyclopaedia, edited by the so-called 'encyclopedists'.

It is taken word for word from Online Etymology Dictionary which clearly is a copyright work. I have asked for citations, but since the "OED" provides none and is very vague, that seems improbable. So I've moved it here until someone can verify, expand and clarify with citations and specifics. --Stbalbach 13:27, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia link[edit]

The link to Wikipedia was recently deleted as vandalism. Probably links to Wikipedia show up frequently as vandalism, and the anti-vandalism person (or bot) may not have noticed that it was relevant to this article. Before adding it back I think we should get a consensus about the link being present. If there is reasonable opposition to having the link I won't add it back. But Wikipedia, to me, seems significant enough in the world of encyclopedias to warrant a link in this article. Rlitwin 16:56, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

I don't understand why people keep removing the link to the article on wikipedia with no explanation and without addressing it here. The issue has been raised in talk so people shouldn't continue making the deletion without justifying it. Rlitwin 13:41, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I think the link to Wikipedia in the External links undermines the intelligence of the reader.. I mean come on, is it really neccessary to link to the site they are already on, in case they hadn't realized it yet? I mean, they somehow got on to this site, and managed to search for "Encyclopedia" and came to the entry (or came to it from Google, but same difference), and they read the article, and got to the links section, and then we have to give them an "external link" to the Wikipedia main page? As if to say, "Hey, you should really check out this Wikipedia site. Here's the link. It's a great example of an encyclopedia!" It's not even really an external link. It's the equivalent to an article on toast linking the exact same article on toast, for more information on the subject. --Krakko 01:05, 7 May 2007 (UTC)
See WP:SELF, particularly "Wikipedia's free content is reused in many places, online and off. Do not assume that the reader is reading Wikipedia, or indeed any website." There's print versions, CD/DVD versions, potential forks, etc. to consider. I'm sure you've seen Wikipedia content elsewhere on the Web while googling, for instance. The Wikipedia article also contains an external link to Wikipedia. -- Coffee2theorems (talk) 07:50, 17 February 2009 (UTC)


Are Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encarta, and such traditional encyclopedias Wikipedia's competitors? Their so different. At their core, these are are traditional paper encyclopedias and wikipedia is a free-content online work. If so, how do we which encyclopedia is ahead. There is no market share or sales to base a comparison. I don't think you could compare number users or articles, accuracy of those articles, or hits to the website. Wikipedia is so different from Britannica. How do we know which encyclopedia is winning.--Wikiphilia 05:47, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

Put it in an internal links section. Neopetslovette 17:40, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Four major elements[edit]

I don't see why we have four bullet points. The first one contains three parts:

  • "Encyclopedias can be general [and] can also specialize in a particular field ..." - this seems to duplicate the second bullet about scope.
  • ""General encyclopedias often contain guides on how to do a variety of things ...". While true, this does not define an encyclopedia. Neither does gazetteer.
  • Examples like Britannica and Great Soviet. These do not describe "four major elements" and should be discussed in their appropriate context, as Britannica already is.

The last bullet point doesn't state any defining criterion for an encyclopedia but the mere fact that there are modern versions; it rather belongs in section Modern encyclopedias. Any objections if I delete these two bullets and move the examples that are not covered in context under See also? — Sebastian (talk) 22:13, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

Well-rounded education?[edit]

Regarding this text:

enkyklios paideia, literally 'the things of boys/child in a circle', meaning "a general knowledge."

Which was recently modified to this:

enkyklia paideia, literally '[well] rounded education', meaning "a general knowledge."

I don't speak Greek, but I'm disappointed to learn the origins of "rounded education" does not derive from the picture of students sitting in a circle listening to Socrates or some ancient Greek sage. If this is not the case, where and how did "round" get associated with education? It must be a very old association based on some reason. -- Stbalbach 14:23, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

My source is very old, and I'm sorry it's German: Benselers Griechisch-Deutsches Schulwörterbuch, Leipzig und Berlin: B. G. Teubner, 1931.

  • ἐγ-κύκλιος, kreisförmig, rund ..., od. allgemein: αἱ ἐγκύκλιοι (ἀρχαί) die gewöhnlichen, niedern Ämter, ἡ ἐ. διοίκησις die niedere Verwaltung, τά ἐγκύκλια μαθήματα, ἡ ἐγκ. παιδεία der Kreis der allgemeinen Wissenschaften und Künste, die jeder Grieche in der Jugend treiben mußte, allgemeine Bildung.
  • παιδεία, ... 1) Auferziehung, Erziehung,, Unterweisung, Unterricht, Zucht ... 2) das durch Erziehung Gewonnene ..., wissenschaftliche Ausbildung, Bildung, Kenntnisse, Wissenschaft, Einsicht, Kunstfertigkeit, Ausübung der Kunst. 3) poet. Bildungsstätte, Schule, ...


  • ἐγ-κύκλιος, circular, round ..., or general: αἱ ἐγκύκλιοι (ἀρχαί) the common, lower offices, ἡ ἐ. διοίκησις the lower administration, τά ἐγκύκλια μαθήματα, ἡ ἐγκ. παιδεία the circle of general sciences and arts, which every Greek had to pursue in their youth. , general education.
  • παιδεία, ... 1) education, instruction ... 2) that which has been gained through education ..., scientific learnedness, culture, knowledge, science, insight, skilfulness, practice of the arts. 3) poet.: institute of education, school, ...

I tried to find an English on line source but was not successful. Are you aware of any? — Sebastian (talk) 20:02, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

I don't have a source. This still leads us in circles, where and how did "circle" become associated with "education". Students sitting in a circle, physically and then symbolically, seems like a neat explanation. My ancient history is weak, but didn't the Greeks gather in a circular forum to hear orators in the center speak before casting votes with a pebble? -- Stbalbach 19:25, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
I think you're misunderstanding something here. "Circle" never became associated with "education". It just so happens that the Greek word for "general" is derived from "circle". If you want to see it in terms of derivation, you can see two separate chains:
  • circle \Rarr round \Rarr allround \Rarr general
  • child \Rarr education \Rarr knowledge
Then someone used "general knowledge" to describe an encyclopedia, which was when the two chains met. I wrote "well-rounded", because I felt it fits a bit better to "education" and to the Greek ideal, but you might as well write "allround knowledge". HTH, — Sebastian (talk) 19:51, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
Oh ok yeah I missed that thanks for the clarification. -- Stbalbach 20:40, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

literally translates as a "well rounded" ?[edit]

I think the word "round" in English should have been extended to the meaning "full, complete" at earliest(online etymology dictionary).

In the sense of the contemporary English it may be 'literally translates as a "well rounded" 'extended the the word "round" but is it really said just like literally meaning "well-rounded"in the sense of the time when the word ἐγκυκλοπαιδεία had been created in old Greek?

I couldn't find the related description from the link.

Henry George defines as "ordinary, everyday" by the third definition.I think this meaning is more appropriate.

online etymology dictionary also said "general" (from en "in" + kyklos "circle").

Therefore I recomend it should be described:

"enkyklios" (ἐγκύκλιος), meaning "ordinary, everyday" entended to "in circle(ἐγ + κύκλιος)"[9] + "paideia" (παιδεία), meaning "education, rearing of a child"[10]. Together, the phrase translates as a "general knowledge" derived from "lessons whom audience takes in the circle ".

Sorry for my poor English. I'm Japanese who tries to add this sentense with the page of 百科事典, encyclopedia in Japanese and has difficulty with the interpretation of the word "round" and "well-rounded" used in this page. -- (talk) 03:55, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

Hi! I think that you can transate the word "circle" as "complete". I mean complete as full, total, complete as a circle and also perfect as a circle! It means that Encyclopedia is able to speaks and teaches about every kind of knowledge. Verify it on the italian Wikipedia's voice "Enciclopedia" I suggest something more. Think about a circle. How is it defined in geometry? "A line forming a closed loop, every point on which is a fixed distance from a center point." Who is IN the center point? Who is the "center point"? You! Man is the center point of the knowledge. It's one of the main aspect of Enlightnement and before it was the the main concept of the "Umanesimo" (XVcentury). It's not a case if the word Umanesimo came fom a latin word that means "human". Another reflexion: Think about the definition of "line" (that word is used to define circle). A line is made by not ending point. In other word the number of the points in a line is limitless. So the line that represents the knowledge is formed by limitless points. So the knowlwdge is endless. Another thought: The knowlwdge is circle (metaforically), because to understand the Truth, we have to see the connections between things, and also because we have to see the knowledge in her moving. Everything is connected in the knowledge. Another thing: in a circle there is no points to start drawing. Everything has the same importance in Knowledge. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Elehasufel (talkcontribs) 21:04, 21 April 2011 (UTC)


"the spellings encyclopaedia and encyclopedia both see common use, in British-/Commonwealth- and American-influenced sources, respectively." doesn't mean much. I guess it means "encyclopaedia is commonly used in the British Commonwealth, while encyclopedia is commonly used in the U.S." Not only is it inaccurate and awkwardly worded—it's just wrong. The two spellings are about equally used in the British National Corpus. And the Canadian Encyclopedia is a Commonwealth source. Webster's 3rd doesn't exactly say that "the digraph is rare in the U.S.," but rather regards encyclopaedia as an also-ran. JackLumber. 19:44, 12 December 2006 (UTC) Psychlopaedist: are you related to User:E Pluribus Anthony? JackLumber. 20:04, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

The current version is also awkwardly worded: the prior version (I think) is intended to clearly distinguish between British/Commonwealth English and American English ... and the above seems just as subjective an assessment as any. Also-ran is rather obtuse wording. If clearer wording isn't produced, I will restore content from previously. Lastly: no, I'm not related to that user. Psychlopaedist 21:19, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
What I said is a *fact*—it's not a subjective assessment. See e.g. Pam Peters's Cambridge Guide to English Usage, page 181. That alleged "distinction" between British/Commonwealth and American is just phony. JackLumber. 21:53, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
Please source it in the article then, as editors are supposed to do. Also note that there appears to have been at least some background/discussion about the original note (with some rigmarole), so I'll do a little digging and make edits if needed. Thanks. Psychlopaedist 21:55, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
I just added a couple sources—to wit, Oxford, Chambers, Merriam-Webster, and American Heritage. Yet you and Anthony have a lots of things in common---the edit summary style (RE: ; cpyed), the latinate username (cf. Ex post factoid, Cogito ergo sumo), that space-ellipsis points-space " ... ", an interest in Canada, Quebec, Toronto, Asia, Southeastern Europe, geography, encyclopedias... JackLumber. 22:55, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. Regarding your other points, I guess we do have things in common, but please note that the editorial abbreviations used are apparently fairly common in Wikipedia. Ah well. Beyond that, I can't comment further. Psychlopaedist 04:20, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Spelling variant used in title page not mentioned?[edit]

The article gives the variants of the word as "An encylopedia, encyclopaedia or (traditionally) encyclopædia". To be honest, I've never seen the first. A google search does bring a lot up, but does if I meant "encyclopedia". Is this what the article means, or is missing the second 'c' an actual variant? Jameshfisher 21:33, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

I think that's a typo. Corticopia 22:08, 31 March 2007 (UTC)
For the record, the typo was introduced on March 6, 2007, and I see that it was fixed on March 31, 2007. 11:09, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

Choose better word?[edit]

Where it says "Encyclopedias of at least one volume in size exist for most if not all Academic disciplines, including, typically, such narrow topics such as bioethics and African American history," I suggest substituting a better word for "narrow." 11:05, 1 April 2007 (UTC)


I suggest the article be expanded to include more information that would assist readers in making comparative judgments regarding the quality of the various encyclopædias that exist. If there are objective, published studies comparing the accuracy of Wikipedia with the accuracy of Encyclopædia Britannica, for example, or the accuracy or comprehensiveness of different published encyclopædias, then please add citations (or if already mentioned in the existing citations, expand the text!) 11:19, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

Done. See Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica. Any others should be done likewise as this is a general top-level summary article. -- Stbalbach 23:12, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity[edit]

The brethren of purity[1], Basra 960 wrote the influential Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity, which had enormous influence at the time. I would like to insert it in temporal order, which means it lies in the middle of an existing paragraph currently dominated by Christendom. Would anyone object if I refactored this? --Ancheta Wis 17:33, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

  1. ^ Wightman (1953), Growth of Scientific Ideas

1911 encyc brit[edit]

Is this link correct? My computer comes up with an error message. I've tried several times to-day, and each time, it takes over three minutes before finally giving an error message. Kdammers 04:57, 15 April 2007 (UTC)


Wikipedia is one of the most popular if not the must popular encyclopdia in the world, there should be a headline on Wikipedia and other online encycopedia's, not links to them, but information about them. Nikro 02:04, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

In fiction[edit]

Encyclopedias play a role in fiction and popular culture. Just think of the Encyclopedia Galactica in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy or the essays of Jorge Luis Borges. Some other articles have a section on "Xyz in popular culture" or similar. How or where should this be expressed with regards to encyclopedias (and dictionaries, for that matter)? Is there already an article on this subject? Hmm... there is a category:Fictional encyclopedias. But no article? --LA2 08:55, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Necessary external link?[edit]

I noticed a link to Encyclopaedia and Hypertext in the External links section. Is this important enough to include in the article? Foxjwill 04:02, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Bartholomeus Anglicus / Bartholomeus de Glanvilla[edit]

In the History / Early Encyclopedias section, the author of the 1240ish De Proprietatibus Rerum is erroneously given as Bartholomeus de Glanvilla. On the follow-through link, however, it is explained that this 14th (!) century monk was often confused with the 13th (!) century Bartholomeus Anglicus, the actual author of the encyclopedia. Could this please be changed? Thank you. 13:38, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

link question[edit]

Hi! I wanted to link to a Celtic encyclopedia but when I wrote "Celtic encyclopedia" withtin the tag the Wiki code returned the phrase "encyclopedia". Consequently, I had to write "Celtic Celtic encyclopedia" to achieve "Celtic encyclopedia" and this feels a bit awkward. Could anybody please tell me why it is necessary to ignore the first word before encyclopedia? Sponsianus 22:50, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

It's the | symbol you are using after the web address. You don't need it for external links (I've just discovered). If you put one in, Wikipedia thinks it (and the word after it) is part of the address. (talk) 15:37, 5 March 2014 (UTC)


I always think of encyclopedias as having a moral or cultural purpose. That is they are intended to somehow make the world a better place, not being just a way to sell books. Could something about the purpose encyclopedias are put together be mentioned in the article? Thanks. Steve Dufour 05:56, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

ἐγκύκλιος παιδεία[edit]

Shouldn't the second letter in "ἐγκύκλιος παιδεία" be a Nu, "ν"? Why is it a Gamma? Or did the G become an N? I know this is more of a Greek question than a question regarding the word encyclopedia, but alas I feel if I asked it there no one would know what I was talking about. Feel free to send me a personal response if you don't want to crowd the talk page. Merç. Arthurian Legend (talk) 18:27, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

See Agma. --Omnipaedista (talk) 12:43, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

Mention of the Suda[edit]

Should the entry include mention of the byzantine encyclopedia? Gimme danger (talk) 03:20, 9 June 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Lordmick (talkcontribs) 16:28, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

Difficult to use.[edit]

Wikipedia is very difficult to use,there are no easy shortcuts for everything,that means that their search engine could not respond to every thing with full details,other than that its an phonetic inception of new idea. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Leftypowernap (talkcontribs) 23:02, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

New developments[edit]

There is a new development in encyclopedias that has been brought about by the internet, and that ought to be mentioned in the article. Apart from the growth of Wikipedia and which can be thought of as alternative encyclopedias with a popular input, there are a growing number of micro-sites, such as Universe Review, kNOW, and Knowledge 2008, which, though not authoritative or exhaustive like the large encyclopedias, are closer in spirit to the original cyclopedias of the Renaissance, and whose aim is to provide an all-round education/summary/broad overview of knowledge. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:16, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

traditional spelling[edit]

I added a fact tag to the claim that encyclopedia is traditionally spelled encyclopædia with the edit summary: "traditional according to whom? also updated source which was a dead link" and User:AnnaJGrant reverted it with the following summary: "That was the traditional spelling of encyclopedia.." Unfortunately, saying so isn't a good source for citing information. Also, I updated a broken link in my edit which was reverted. Can we be more careful with our bot generated tools please? Thanks! —scarecroe (talk) 22:43, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Rather than get into a British vs. American spelling debate, I've just added a wiktionary link. See also WP:ENGVAR JGHowes talk - 12:48, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
good idea! Pundit|utter 14:41, 9 April 2008 (UTC)


Let's try this for size, and see where we get. An encyclopedia in ancient times was the contemporary scholars' best effort to describe the physical universe and perhaps to categorize it. Given that definition, probably the earliest encyclopedia was the Chinese Book of Changes, the I Ching. The understanding of the I Ching as a fortune-telling device came perhaps later, in less-educated times, but was not the original intent. --Dan (talk) 23:25, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

I was going to suggest the Tung Shing; and that its omission here seems both serious and sinophobic.-- (talk) 14:53, 14 December 2015 (UTC)

"Free Encyclopedia" is NPOV[edit]

I know that all of you really like Wikipedia(you're editing it of course). But the fact is the Section Encyclopedia#Free_encyclopedia is not neutral and should be rewritten to include more currently running encyclopedias. A whole new article (possibly called Open-Source Encyclopedia or Free Encyclopedia) may be justifiable.

Spitfire19 23:19, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
I agree it's not neutral, but only because it centres on Wikipedia too much - the language used about Wikipedia is perfectly neutral, but it acts like Wikipedia is the only free encyclopedia - it hasn't been updated since the advent of Citizendium and Knol. Category:Online encyclopedias should be a good start - most free encyclopaedias are online AFAIK, any other distribution method would be impossible to sustain without payment. —Vanderdeckenξφ 10:24, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
NPOV is finally resolvedSpitfire19 (Talk) 03:11, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Hell Ya, they are removing the KNOL entry from it. --النول (talk) 11:59, 26 February 2009 (UTC)


Wikipedia is not consistent with language, as it changes between English and American spellings. Wikipedia should standerdise the spelling, preferably changing to correct English spellings. Since proper English is the original and correct form of the language, it should be the one used, such as in this page, which should be renamed "encyclopaedia". —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mclay1 (talkcontribs) 09:17, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

The national variety of English to be used on Wikipedia has never been agreed, since there are so many variations (not just British English vs. American English). The current policies are WP:ENGVAR and the Manual of Style (spelling). To summarise: most articles with British-related subjects generally use British English (OED or normal), those connected to the US use en-us spelling, and those connected to neither use both (both variations are allowed within the article, and the lead paragraph must mention both spellings of the subject e.g. "An encyclopedia (or encyclopaedia) is..."). In fact we have a user warning template devoted to it:
Information.svg In a recent edit, you changed one or more words from one international variety of English to another. Because Wikipedia has readers from all over the world, our policy is to respect national varieties of English in Wikipedia articles.
For subjects exclusively related to Britain (for example, a famous British person), use British English. For something related to the United States in the same way, use American English. For something related to other English-speaking countries, such as Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, use the appropriate variety of English used there. If it is an international topic, use the same form of English the original author used.
In view of that, please don't change articles from one version of English to the other, even if you don't normally use the version the article is written in. Respect other people's versions of English. They in turn should respect yours. Other general guidelines on how Wikipedia articles are written can be found in the Wikipedia:Manual of Style. If you have any queries about all this, you can ask me on my talk page or you can visit the help desk. Thank you.
Language naturally evolves and changes with national and international variations. There's no point in crusading for the elimination of all but the One True English. —Vanderdeckenξφ 10:14, 27 February 2009 (UTC)
True facts. Mclay1, what is a "billion"? We here in America have one strict definition for it. I hear you folks over there do not. —ᚹᚩᛞᛖᚾᚻᛖᛚᛗ (ᚷᛖᛋᛈᚱᛖᚳ) 18:40, 5 May 2010 (UTC)
Enclyclopaedia was the original spelling. Spelling words with "E" with"AE" avoids dangerous confusion. Someone chucked a brick at a pediologist's house because they confused Pedo with paedo. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sumirp (talkcontribs) 08:23, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Period piece[edit]

"By preserving Latin and Greek texts which would otherwise have been lost, they helped to rekindle the search for knowledge and methods of natural philosophy which would revive again during the Renaissance." So: lots of Arabist studies were going on during the Renaissance? Certainly news to me. (Would like to see where medival encyclopediasts would be without them-we would still be quoting "The Wedding of Mercury & Philology", I suppose). Perhaps less esoterically, the actual Renaissance encyclopedias seem to have been fitted into the Age of Enlightenment (17-19 cent) to the degree they are mentioned at all. Really do not have time for edit war, links to Olaus Magnus etc: could someone please take a look at things? 21:58, 30 June 2009(UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:58, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

Etymology section[edit]

I've kicked the obscene etymology section to the end of the article. It's completely ridiculously too long to be the first piece of content in the article, and frankly, simply isn't important enough. The first thing that goes in most encyclopedia articles is more detail about what the topic is, or the history of the topic. Starting with several page derivation of the word in the title, when the word wasn't even invented till 1500 years after the encyclopedia, is completely assinine.- Wolfkeeper 02:57, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

Background for this interpretation can be found at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Linguistics#Prithee and currently ongoing at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 73#WP:DICTIONARY needs tweaking?.
I disagree with this perspective, and believe the name of the object, and its characteristics are fundamental. The history section is by far the longest, which makes your comments about length getting in the way, ironic. -- Quiddity (talk) 03:27, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
No, the background for this is reading the damn article here and putting yourself in the shoes of the likely reader. They do not want two pages of etymology immediately after the introduction.- Wolfkeeper 04:14, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
2 pages? I count 2 paragraphs and 1 stray sentence. Unless you're using strange font size settings... --Cybercobra (talk) 04:46, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
It's 4K of source text, and when you've read it; you still know no more about encyclopedias. You know marginally more about one word that refers to encyclopedias; and even then only the English term for it.- Wolfkeeper 05:23, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
I think the Etymology section is more accurate than the History section. I really wanted to put etymology before all for two reasons: firstly because is the normal format of the articles; secondly because it is far more correct than the History section, so it would be a better presentation for the article. Lele giannoni (talk) 12:21, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

(outdent) There was a minor dispute over what the sources actually say about the etymology of the word. This has just been sorted out here. I will change the section to reflect what sources say. --Omnipaedista (talk) 12:43, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

Removed from article[edit]

In practice, however, the distinction is not concrete, as there is no clear-cut difference between factual, "encyclopedic" information and linguistic information such as appears in dictionaries.[1][2] Encyclopedias incorporate material that is also found in dictionaries, and vice versa.[2] In particular, dictionary entries often contain factual information about the thing named by the word.[2][3] Even in such cases, however, an encyclopedia entry aims to provide a much fuller treatment of the subject.[3]

This was added to a paragraph about the differences between dictionaries and encyclopedias. The word 'concrete' says that there's not any actual difference between a dictionary and an encyclopedia, whereas the referenced text just says that dictionaries and encyclopedias contain a bit of the same information, and doesn't state anywhere that I can see that there's no difference between the two.- Wolfkeeper 16:36, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

On the whole it seems to be inaccurate précis.- Wolfkeeper 16:36, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

The sources say that "In contrast with linguistic information, encyclopedia material is more concerned with the description of objective realities than the words or phrases that refer to them. In practice, however, there is no hard and fast boundary between factual and lexical knowledge." and "Usually these these two aspects overlap - ENCYCLOPEDIC INFORMATION being difficult to distinguish from LINGUISTIC INFORMATION - and dictionaries attempt to capture both in the explanation of a meaning..." And, "The two types, as we have seen, are not easily differentiated; encyclopedias contain information that is also to be found in dictionaries, and vice versa."
The point is, the distinction between "encyclopedia" content and "dictionary" content is not clear cut. The article nowhere says that they're the same.--Cúchullain t/c 17:59, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
I altered the wording to be closer to what the sources say.--Cúchullain t/c 18:45, 28 July 2010 (UTC)


  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference DOLei was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference Bejoint31 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference DOLencyclopedicdefinition was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

Generally speaking[edit]

This edit sufficiently carries the meaning of the three given sources. Wolfkeeper initially claimed that the problem with the original phrasing was that the word "general" was used too many times;[3] my new edit obviously corrects this. Now it appears his problem is with the phrase "generally speaking". I think this phrase is necessary, since all of the relevant sources indicate that the distinction is not clear cut, especially in the case of dictionaries, which will often include "encyclopedic" information. We need to be careful to properly convey what the sources are actually saying here.--Cúchullain t/c 12:11, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

The fact is that general-purpose dictionaries are always concerned with words, terms and linguistics of one form or another, and that's what the references say.- Wolfkeeper 15:02, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
The use of 'generally' in this case is ambiguous, and in what is probably the more common meaning, actually wrong. 'Generally' is typically used to mean 'usually', but it can also mean always. The always meaning is correct here, for dictionaries.- Wolfkeeper 15:02, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
And no, it didn't help that the same word appeared twice within 3 words, either.- Wolfkeeper 15:04, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
You're also making the claim above (and to a fair degree trying to write this into the article) that "all of the relevant sources indicate that the distinction is not clear cut, especially in the case of dictionaries, which will often include "encyclopedic" information" but just because two things contain some of the same things, doesn't mean that there's no distinction between them. For example consider that aeroplanes and trucks may carry some of the cargo, that doesn't mean an aeroplane is a truck or that there's no other distinction between aeroplanes and trucks. With encyclopedias and dictionaries, just because as reference works, they contain some of the same information doesn't make them indistinct forms.- Wolfkeeper 15:13, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
There is no "always" or "never" when it comes to the distinction between dictionaries and encyclopedias (and the distinction is the whole point of the sentence). All of the sources bear this out. The context makes it clear that "generally" is being used in the usual sense here.
I'm trying to write the article according to what the sources say. Most if not all of them, including one you yourself added, say the distinction is not clear cut. And no, that is hardly equivalent to arguing that there are no differences at all.--Cúchullain t/c 15:41, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
Right, but the source says that dictionaries are always concerned with words and their uses, not sometimes. So you're deliberately misrepresenting that.- Wolfkeeper 15:58, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
You're massively also oversimplifying. They say that in many aspects there are significant overlaps, but they also point to large differences, and the point that dictionaries are not translatable, whereas encyclopedias in fact are routinely translated, is a clear-cut difference, that is noted in one of the references.- Wolfkeeper 15:58, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
You're misreading the sentence. It is about the distinction between encyclopedias and dictionaries, not the definition of "dictionary".
Of course there are difference. I wrote the paragraph on them, thank you. However, as far as I can recall, none of the sources specifically give translatability as an example of a difference between an encyclopedia and a dictionary. The only that I can remember mentioning it at all (Bejoint p. 30) only briefly mentions that encyclopedias can be translated, but dictionaries can't.--Cúchullain t/c 16:06, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes, Bejoint specifically says that.- Wolfkeeper 04:06, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
But that's nothing to do with the edit you arbitrarily reverted. My edit simply made the text state that dictionaries specifically are linguistic reference works as this is both obvious as well supported by the references immediately after it. And I frankly don't know why you reverted it, since according to the references you added encyclopedia entries can contain both linguistic and factual information about the topic; but the fact remains that all dictionary entries do necessarily contain linguistic information, whereas not all encyclopedia articles must (although any given article may).- Wolfkeeper 04:06, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
As I've said repeatedly, the point of the sentence is the difference between encyclopedias and dictionaries. Such a difference is general, not universal. That caveat appears in virtually all of the sources, so it needs to appear here too. --Cúchullain t/c 14:25, 20 August 2010 (UTC) I took out the phrase "of necessity"[4] (there is no "necessity" that any work do anything) but otherwise this change is reasonable, so I've revert myself.--Cúchullain t/c 14:59, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Bejoint says "For many entries [in an encyclopedia], a different entry word might have been chosen, and this would not have modified noticeably the contents of the entry. That is why an encyclopedia can be translated, but a dictionary cannot". He is not giving translatability as a necessary difference between encylopedias and dictionaries; it is rather the result of encyclopedias focusing on factual information rather than linguistic information. At any rate we do discuss translatability here already, and it follows what Bejoint says closely.--Cúchullain t/c 14:53, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Forget the translation thing. The point is that there are large numbers of actual universal differences between encyclopedias and dictionaries. It is not simply a style difference. There are many things you are simply not allowed to do in an encyclopedia that are routine in dictionaries, and vice versa. You are not allowed to have a dictionary entry where the entry is not about the entry term. You are allowed to have an article that is not about the term in an encyclopedia. You are not supposed to have verbs as article names in encyclopedias. It's perfectly allowed in a dictionary. The reason is that the dictionary is always, first and foremost, a linguistic reference work. An encyclopedia is not first and foremost a linguistic reference work. That is a concrete universal difference.- Wolfkeeper 20:28, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
(Unless it's an etymological encyclopedia... ;) -- Quiddity (talk) 23:05, 20 August 2010 (UTC)
Well, I only addressed the translation thing because you brought it up. But moving on, i would like to point out that all of my changes have been based on reliable sources, which carry far more weight than our personal interpretations of what is "allowed" or not.--Cúchullain t/c 05:53, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Citizendium instead of Encarta[edit]

Encarta was last published in 2009 so I listed Citizendium instead. Plz do not see this as a POV standpoint towards Larry Sanger. SpeakFree (talk) 14:34, 12 March 2011 (UTC)


The article claims that the Greek word is ἐγκυκλοπαιδεία It seems to me that it should be ἐνκυκλοπαιδεία. Also, ἐνκυκλοπαιδεία would never mean "general." It means "in a circle." How can this mean "general"?Lestrade (talk) 23:55, 20 April 2011 (UTC)Lestrade

It doesn't mean "well rounded education" either, that would be "eὺcyclopedia" [ἐὺκυκλοπαιδεία]. "ν" = "n" and "ὺ" = "u."Lestrade (talk) 03:13, 22 April 2011 (UTC)Lestrade

a) When the prefix εν combines with a word beginning in κ, it regularly becomes εγ.
b) The original Greek phrase was εγκύκλιος παιδεία, " 'encyclical education', the circle of arts and sciences considered by the Greeks as essential to a liberal eduation" (OED). See the Liddell and Scott definition III.3. of εγκύκλιος ' general education, prior to professional studies'. The current writeup is a bit confusing; I will work on it. --Macrakis (talk) 18:38, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Nationalistic bias[edit]

I think this article is affected by a nationalistic bias, particularly in two sentences.
Firstly there was written that sir Browne's work was the first to be titled encyclopedia. This information was evidently incorrect, since Aventinus and Skalić used this title before. Likely, Browne was the first one in English. So I added the words "in English". However, I have no source about that.
Secondly, the article says that Harris was the first one to write an alphabetical encylopedia. That, too, is incorrect. In fact, it's evident that also Moréri, Furetière and Bayle's works were alphabetical (not to mention Etymologiae or Suida) and theirs, too, like Harris', were specialistic dictionaries more than true encylopedias. So, also in this case I think that Harris was the first in English.
The reason why I'm so angry about the nationalistic bias in this article is that it's been translated in many other languages, so that these deceitful informations have been spread throughout the wikipedias. Lele giannoni (talk) 10:43, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

Unresolved link[edit]

What makes a scholarly encyclopedia? is broken and now points to the general Duke library website [[5]], rather than to Robertekraut (talk) 20:40, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Vandalism revert[edit]

Undid several of the latest revisions because of vandalism.

RealityApologist (talk) 07:21, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

Info removed, please restore; General encyclopedias[edit]

Please restore the citation. Removed here

General encyclopedias often contain guides on how to do a variety of things, as well as embedded dictionaries and gazetteers.

Ashok Babu Tummala, M. Sankara Reddy, Hemant Kumar. E-libraries, 2007. isbn 8184242824. Page 199

It is published by the Andhra Pradesh Library Association.

--J. D. Redding 19:57, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Your edit replaced this sentence:
General encyclopedias often contain guides on how to do a variety of things, as well as embedded dictionaries and gazetteers.
General encyclopedias possess guides on how to do a variety of things, as well as subsume dictionaries and gazetteers.<ref>Ashok Babu Tummala, M. Sankara Reddy, Hemant Kumar. E-libraries, 2007. isbn 8184242824</ref>
Thanks for posting the page number here, Reddi. Since the original reference didn't supply a page number or chapter, I tried searching for what part you might have had in mind, and couldn't find it. Clearly page 199 is the source for the claim; I see now that the original sentence was copied almost verbatim from the source.
Regarding the change of wording: "Possess" makes it sound like all general encyclopedias contain how-to guides, which is wrong. The word "subsume" seems like a mistaken or at least strange word choice. The main sense of "subsume" is to bring an instance or subcategory under a category that contains it, or to be the containing category. That is not the relationship that general encyclopedias bear to dictionaries and gazetteers. Another sense of "subsume" is to include, which might be technically correct, except that "subsume" in this sense emphasizes the act of one thing absorbing or incorporating another, which seems inappropriate here.
There are a couple problems we should think about for how to make the article better, since the writing in the Characteristics section right now is pretty incoherent. The first is that the sentence in context, regardless of how it's worded, is a strange digression. It comes in a paragraph that surveys the different kinds of subject matter that can define an encyclopedia. One of these is "general": all topics in every field. The rest of the paragraph illustrates subjects that non-general encyclopedias can cover. It's out-of-place to mention secondary, fairly inconsequential details about general encyclopedias here. Another problem is that the next paragraph is about "scope", but from the examples, it's not clear what distinction is intended between "subject matter" and "scope". Any ideas for how to fix this?
The other problem is that the source is poor. It's written in bad English, suggesting little or no editorial oversight. The source is not specifically about encyclopedias; the title is "Developing a Subject Based Personal Electronic Library a Step by Step Guide." It says weird stuff like "the Wikipedia's articles may be considered to be of a trivial nature" and it lists Everything2 as a well-known on-line encyclopedia (and omits Wikipedia!). I don't feel good about citing it. I hope we could find something better. Is there a reason you wanted to cite this source in particular?
Ben Kovitz (talk) 19:15, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
I was correcting the original sentence and the copied from the source problem. Correcting any infringement and giving a citation.
Really needs to be cited. To correct the current situation. But be open to finding other citation while this one is used.
And, older general encyclopedias (several of real hardcopy 1900s sets I posses) do contain/incorporate these things. Not sure how many older books you possess. This doesn't even mention other encyclopedias (Everything2 is, though you personally may not agree).
Though it's not really relevant, your last comment bothers me. "Bad english" is relative [... usually the resort of specious arguments]. And don't hold much weight, personally. The source is Indian, so maybe it is a translation.
--J. D. Redding 23:31, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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