The word encyclopedia in Latin was spelled encyclopaedia, which was defined as a "general education book", because that's what it was. This is from the Greek phrase enkyklios paideia, which literally meant "circular education" ("circle" kind of meaning a "field of study" here); it was changed to one word by a clerical error. Enkyklos, the "circular" aspect of the term, is from kuklos, "circle", which in turn derives from a Proto-Indo-European root that generally had a kw- sound, like kwel, kwele, or kweklos, and meant "wheel", certainly a type of circle. The en- was just a modifying prefix. Paideia, the latter part of the aforementioned phrase, is the "education" part of it all, from pais, meaning "child", the type of person going through education. Finally, this is from Proto-Indo-European pehw, meaning "smallness". Now, if we harken back to yesterday's post, which explained how wiki actually meant "quick", the website Wikipedia actually means "quick education".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.