The Encyclopedia reference article from the Simple Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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An Encyclopedia (or encyclopædia) is a collection of information about things humans know.

The word comes from the Greek words εγκύκλιος παιδεία, enkyklios paideia ("in a circle of instruction"). From εγκύκλιος, circuit shaped from κύκλος circuit and παιδεία, meaning instruction.

There are different types of encyclopedia. Some are general and have pages on lots of topics. The English language Encyclopædia Britannica and German Brockhaus are general encyclopedias. Some are about certain topics. For example, an encyclopedia of medicine or philosophy. There are also encyclopedias that have lots of topics but these are all written from one point of view or with one cultural bias. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia is one of these.