encyclopedia

An encyclopedia is a reference work designed to cover all branches and topics of knowledge. We might describe someone who seems to know everything as a "walking encyclopedia."

Encyclopedia comes the Greek words for "comprehensive" (cyclo) and "education" (pedia). The first encyclopedias were books (usually in many volumes), but now we have online and electronic encyclopedias. This reference is usually organized alphabetically and covers as many topics as possible. If you're doing research, the encyclopedia is a good place to start.

Definitions of encyclopedia
  1. noun
    a reference work (often in several volumes) containing articles on various topics (often arranged in alphabetical order) dealing with the entire range of human knowledge or with some particular specialty
    synonyms: cyclopaedia, cyclopedia, encyclopaedia
    see moresee less
    types:
    book of knowledge
    an elementary encyclopedia dealing with general knowledge
    type of:
    book of facts, reference, reference book, reference work
    a book to which you can refer for authoritative facts
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week