October 18, 2021
An encyclopedia (), formerly also from French: Encyclopédie (from ancient Greek ἐγκύκλια παιδεία enkýklia paideía, German, circle of sciences and arts, which every free Greek had to practice in his youth before he entered civil life or devoted himself to a special study ', see Paideia), is a particularly comprehensive reference work. The term encyclopedia is intended to indicate detail or a wide range of topics, as for example in the case of a person who is said to have encyclopedic knowledge. A summary of all knowledge is presented. The encyclopedia is therefore an overview arrangement of the knowledge of a certain time and a certain space, which shows connections. In addition, such works are referred to as specialist encyclopedias that only deal with a single subject or subject area. The meaning of the term encyclopedia is fluid; Encyclopedias stood between textbooks on the one hand and dictionaries on the other. The Naturalis historia from the first century AD is considered to be the oldest completely preserved encyclopedia. Above all, the great French Encyclopédie (1751–1780) established the term “encyclopedia” for a non-fiction dictionary. Because of their alphabetical order, encyclopedias are often referred to as lexicons. The current form of the reference work has mainly developed since the 18th century; it is a comprehensive non-fiction dictionary on all subjects for a broad readership. In the 19th century, the typical neutral, factual style was added. The encyclopaedias were structured more clearly and contained new texts, not simply adopting older (foreign) works. For a long time, one of the best-known examples in the German-speaking world was the Brockhaus Encyclopedia (from 1808), in English the Encyclopaedia Britannica (from 1768). Since the 1980s, encyclopedias have also been offered in digital form, on CD-ROM and on the Internet. In some cases it is a continuation of older works, in some cases new projects. Microsoft Encarta, first published on CD-ROM in 1993, was a particular success. Wikipedia, founded in 2001, developed into the largest Internet encyclopedia.