Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences

Cyclopædia: or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (two volumes in folio) was an encyclopedia published by Ephraim Chambers in London in 1728, and reprinted in numerous editions in the eighteenth century. The Cyclopaedia was one of the first general encyclopedias to be produced in English. The 1728 subtitle gives a summary of the aims of the author:

Cyclopaedia, or, an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences: Containing the Definitions of the Terms, and Accounts of the Things Signify'd Thereby, in the Several Arts, both Liberal and Mechanical, and the Several Sciences, Human and Divine: the Figures, Kinds, Properties, Productions, Preparations, and Uses, of Things Natural and Artificial; the Rise, Progress, and State of Things Ecclesiastical, Civil, Military, and Commercial: with the Several Systems, Sects, Opinions, etc; among Philosophers, Divines, Mathematicians, Physicians, Antiquaries, Criticks, etc.: The Whole Intended as a Course of Ancient and Modern Learning.
Chambers Cyclopaedia 1728
Ephraim Chambers Cyclopaedia (1728)
Table of Trigonometry, Cyclopaedia, Volume 2
Table of Trigonometry, 1728 Cyclopaedia

Noteworthy features

The first edition included numerous cross-references meant to connect articles scattered by the use of alphabetical order, a dedication to the King, George II, and a philosophical preface at the beginning of Volume 1. Among other things, the preface gives an analysis of forty-seven divisions of knowledge, with classed lists of the articles belonging to each, intended to serve as a table of contents and also as a directory indicating the order in which the articles should be read.

Printing history

A second edition appeared in 1738 in two volumes in folio, with 2,466 pages. This edition was supposedly retouched and amended in a thousand places, with a few added articles and some enlarged articles. Chambers was prevented from doing more because the booksellers were alarmed by a bill in Parliament containing a clause to oblige the publishers of all improved editions of books to print their improvements separately. The bill, after passing the House of Commons, was unexpectedly thrown out by the House of Lords; but fearing that it might be revived, the booksellers thought it best to retreat though more than twenty sheets had been printed.

Five other editions were published in London from 1739 to 1751–1752. An edition was also published in Dublin in 1742; this and the London editions were all 2 volumes in folio. An Italian translation appearing in Venice, 1748–1749, 4to, 9 vols., was the first complete Italian encyclopaedia. When Chambers was in France in 1739, he rejected very favorable proposals to publish an edition there dedicated to Louis XV.

Chambers' work was carefully done, and popular. However, it had defects and omissions, as he was well aware; at his death, on 15 May 1740, he had collected and arranged materials for seven new volumes. George Lewis Scott was employed by the booksellers to select articles for the press and to supply others, but he left before the job was finished. The job was then given to Dr. John Hill. The Supplement was published in London in 1753 in two folio volumes with 3307 pages and 12 plates. Hill was a botanist, and the botanical part, which had been weak in the Cyclopaedia, was the best.

Abraham Rees, a nonconformist minister, published a revised and enlarged edition in 1778–1788, with the supplement and improvements incorporated. It was published in London, as a folio of 5 vols., 5010 pages (but not paginated), and 159 plates. It was published in 418 numbers at 6d. each. Rees claimed to have added more than 4,400 new articles. At the end, he gave an index of articles, classed under 100 .heads, numbering about 57,000 and filling 80 pages. The heads, with 39 cross references, were arranged alphabetically.[1]

Precursors and the Encyclopédie

Among the precursors of Chambers's Cyclopaedia was John Harris's Lexicon Technicum, of 1704 (later editions from 1708 through 1744). By its title and content, it was "An Universal English Dictionary of Arts and Sciences: Explaining not only the Terms of Art, but the Arts Themselves." While Harris's work is often classified as a technical dictionary, it also took material from Newton and Halley, among others.

Chambers's Cyclopaedia in turn became the inspiration for the landmark Encyclopédie of Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert, which owed its inception to a proposed French translation of Chambers' work begun in 1744 by John Mills,[2] assisted by Gottfried Sellius


  1. ^ Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Encyclopaedia" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 374.
  2. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Chambers, Ephraim" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Further reading

  • Bocast, Alexander. Chambers on Definition. McLean: Berkeley Bridge Press, 2016. (ISBN 978-1-945208-00-3).
  • Bradshaw, Lael Ely. "Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopedia." Notable Encyclopedias of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: Nine Predecessors of the Encyclopédie. Ed. Frank Kafker. Oxford: The Voltaire Foundation, 1981. 123–137. (ISBN 0-7294-0256-8).
  • Collison, Robert. Encyclopædias: Their History Throughout the Ages. New York: Hafner, 1966. OCLC 368968
  • Kafker, Frank. A. Notable Encyclopedias of the Late Eighteenth Century: Eleven Successors of the Encyclopédie. Oxford : Voltaire Foundation at the Taylor Institution, 1994.
  • Kolb, Gwin J. and James H. Sledd. “Johnson’s ‘Dictionary’ and Lexicographical Tradition.” Modern Philology 50.3 (Feb. 1953): 171–194.
  • Mack, Ruth. “The Historicity of Johnson’s Lexicographer.” Representations 76 (Fall 2001): 61–87.
  • Shorr, Phillip. Science and Superstition in the Eighteenth Century: A Study of the Treatment of Science in Two Encyclopedias of 1725–1750. New York: Columbia, 1932. OCLC 3633346
  • Walsh, S. Patraig. "Cyclopaedia." Anglo-American General Encyclopedias: A Historical Bibliography, 1703–1967. New York: R.R. Bowker, 1968. 38–39. OCLC 577541
  • Yeo, Richard. "The Best Book in the Universe": Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopedia. In Encyclopædic Visions: Scientific Dictionaries and Enlightenment Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001. 120–169. (ISBN 0-521-65191-3)
  • Yeo, Richard R. "A Solution to the Multitude of Books: Ephraim Chambers's Cyclopaedia (1728) as "the Best Book in the Universe."" Journal of the History of Ideas, v. 64 (1), 2003. pp. 61–72. (ISSN 0022-5037)

External links


Aegyptiacum, or ægyptiacum, was used in pharmacy as a kind of detersive unguent. It is so-called from its dusky hue or color, which resembles the swarthy complexion of the Egyptian people.

It is composed of verdigris, vinegar, and honey, boiled to a consistency.

The prescription is Masawaiyh's. It is chiefly used for eating off rotten flesh and cleaning foul ulcers, particularly venereal ones in the throat, and mouth ulcers.

One of the ingredients in a wound cleansing plaster made by Henry VIII of England's Surgeon Thomas Gale in his Handbook, Certaine Workes of Chirurgerie.

“A mundicative

Aegyptiacum Unguent 2 ounces

Alum 1 ounce

Frankincense 1/2 ounce

Myrrh 1 dram

Red Wine 2 pounds

Boil" This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.

Annulet (heraldry)

In heraldry, an annulet (i.e. "little ring") is a common charge. It may allude to the custom of prelates to receive their investiture per baculum et annulum ('by rod and ring'), and can also be described as a roundel that has been "voided" (i.e. with its centre cut out). In English and Canadian heraldry it is also used as the difference mark of a fifth son.

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "Annulet". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. 1 (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al. p. 104.


The Arrhabonarii were a Polish Christian sect who held that the Eucharist was either the real flesh or blood of Jesus Christ as is believed by mainstream Catholics. Instead, the Arrhabonarii believed the Eucharist was a pledge of a gift to be bestowed in heaven. The sect's name is derived from the Greek Ἀρραβων, Arrha, meaning "earnest". The position was first argued by Francesco Stancaro in 1543.

Avellane cross

In heraldry, an avellane cross is a form of cross which resembles four hazel filberts in their husks or cases, joined together at the great end. The term comes from the Latin name for the hazel, originally Nux avellana. It was fairly rare in English heraldry.


Azones (Greek: Άζωνοι) in mythology, was a term anciently applied to gods and goddesses that were not the private divinities of any particular country or people. They were acknowledged as deities in every country, and worshipped in every nation. The word is etymologically derived from Greek for "without" and "country". The azones were to a degree above the visible and sensible deities, which were called zonei (Greek: Ζωναίοι), who inhabited some particular part of the world, and never stirred out of the district or zone that was assigned them.

The Greek philosopher Damascius discusses the azones in his commentary on Plato's Parmenides.


A banquette is a small footpath or elevated step along the inside of a rampart or parapet of a fortification. Musketeers atop it were able to view the counterscarp, or fire on enemies in the moat. A typical size is a foot and a half (approximately half a metre) high, and almost three feet (approximately 90 cm) wide.


Bat-fowling is an archaic method of catching birds at night, while they are at roost. The process involves lighting straw or torches near their roost. After awakening them from their roost, the birds fly toward the flames, where, being amazed, they are easily caught in nets, or beaten with bats. The phrase "beating about the bush" is said to be derived from this practice as the trapper's accomplices would go around the bushes to disturb the birds. The practice was also called lanciatoia in Italy and a variation was called low-belling. The low-belling process involves approaching birds with bright lights and using cow bells, which the birds were accustomed to, to approach the birds up close and capture them with a long-handled net.


Birdlime or bird lime is an adhesive substance used in trapping birds. It is spread on a branch or twig, upon which a bird may land and be caught. Its use is illegal in many jurisdictions.


In heraldry, cabossed, or caboched, is a term used where the head of a beast is cut off behind the ears, by a section parallel to the face; or by a perpendicular section: in contrast to couping, which is done by a horizontal line, and farther from the ears than cabossing.In other words, heads may appear cabossed (also caboshed or caboched): with the head cleanly separated from the neck so that only the face shows; couped: with the neck cleanly separated from the body so that the whole head and neck are present; or erased: with the neck showing a ragged edge as if forcibly torn from the body.

While cabossed heads are shown facing forward (affronté), heads that are couped or erased face dexter unless otherwise specified for differencing. Heads of horned beasts are often shown cabossed to display the horns, but instances can be found in any of these circumstances.

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "Cabossed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. C – Capillary (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al. p. 138.


In the pre-modern medical practice of humorism, cacochymy, or cacochymia, referred to a depraved habit of body, replete with ill humors, from various causes. When the repletion was merely with blood, it was called plethora.

Joannis Gorraeus gave the name cacochymia to the abundance and excess of any ill humor, provided it is only one in excess; plethora he called the abundance or excess of all the humors together.

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.


A casern, also spelled cazern or caserne, is a military barracks in a garrison town. In French-speaking countries, a caserne de pompier is a fire station.

In fortification, caserns are little rooms, lodgments, or apartments, erected between the ramparts, and the houses of fortified towns, or even on the ramparts themselves; to serve as lodgings for the soldiers of the garrison, to ease the garrison, in Portugal and Brazil "Quartel" (derived for 4 faces).

There are usually two beds in each casern, for six soldiers to lie, who mount the guard alternately; the third part being always on duty.

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.


In war, a chamade was a certain beat of a drum, or sound of a trumpet, which was addressed to the enemy as a kind of signal, to inform them of some proposition to be made to the commander; either to capitulate, to have leave to bury their dead, make a truce, etc. Gilles Ménage derives the word from the Italian chiamate, from Latin clamare, to cry.

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.


In architecture and joinery, the chambranle is the border, frame, or ornament, made of stone or wood, that is a component of the three sides round chamber doors, large windows, and chimneys.

When a chambranle is plain and without mouldings, it is called a band, case, or frame. The chambranle consists of three parts; the two sides, called montants, or ports, and the top, called the traverse or supercilium. The chambranle of an ordinary door is frequently called a door-case; of a window, window-frame; and of a chimney, mantle-tree.


A chop-church, or church-chopper, was a parson who made a practice of exchanging ecclesiastical benefices and other terrenal favors. The term is used in an ancient statute as a lawful trade, or occupation.

An example, where the spelling is 'chopchyrche', occurs as the occupation of John Charles of Bishop's Milford, Wiltshire, as a defendant in a plea of debt, for 40/- (forty shillings) brought by John Wyot, merchant of Salisbury. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.


In heraldry, a cross (or other ordinary) cleché, or clechée, flares out at the ends in a shape resembling the bow of an old-fashioned key (French clé). An example is the Occitan Cross in the coat of arms of the counts of Toulouse: Gules, a cross cléchée, pommetty and voided Or. (Because this Occitan Cross is also voided (hollow), some writers have mistakenly taken the term cléché to be a synonym of voided or to include voiding as a defining feature.)

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "Cleché". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. Clausum – Coining (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al. p. 233.


Cyclopedia, cyclopaedia or cyclopædia is an archaic term for encyclopedia.

The term may specifically refer to:

Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, 1728, edited by Ephraim Chambers

Rees's Cyclopædia, 1802–20, edited by Abraham Rees

Penny Cyclopaedia, edited by George Long, published from 1833 to 1843

Tomlinson's Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts, 1852–54, edited by Charles Tomlinson

New American Cyclopaedia 1857–63 editors George Ripley and Charles A. Dana.

The English Cyclopaedia, 1866, edited by Charles Knight

American Cyclopaedia 1873–76, the successor to the New American Cyclopaedia, the primary editors were George Ripley and Charles A. Dana.

Cyclopedia of Universal History 1880–84, World History

Johnson's New Universal Cyclopaedia, 1876, edited by Frederick Barnard and Arnold Guyot

Johnson's Universal Cyclopaedia, 1893, edited by Charles Kendall Adams

Pears Cyclopaedia, a one volume encyclopaedia originally published in the United Kingdom by Pears Soap as Pears Shilling Cyclopaedia in December 1897

Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary

Universal Cyclopaedia, 1900, edited by Charles Kendall Adams

Universal Cyclopaedia and Atlas, 1902, edited by Rossiter Johnson

The Baseball Cyclopedia, 1922, by Ernest J. Lanigan

Levant bole

Levant bole is an earthy clay brought from the Levant, and historically used in medicine for the same purposes as Armenian bole. It was indeed so similar to Armenian bole that some believed them both to be the same, or at least mixtures of each other. Levant bole was used in several compositions, particularly diascodium, to give it color.

Chambers discusses two other similar boles:

Lemnian or Terra Lemia from the island of Lemnos, also called Sigillata

Samnian or Terra Samia from the island of Samos This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "Bole". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.

Mosaic gold

Mosaic gold or bronze powder refers to tin(IV) sulfide as used as a pigment in bronzing and gilding wood and metal work. It is obtained as a yellow scaly crystalline powder. The alchemists referred to it as aurum musivum, or aurum mosaicum. The term mosaic gold has also been used to refer to ormolu and to cut shapes of gold leaf, some darkened for contrast, arranged as a mosaic. The term bronze powder may also refer to powdered bronze alloy.

Alchemists prepared this by combining mercury, tin, sal ammoniac, and sublimated sulfur (fleur de soufre), grinding, mixing, then setting them for three hours in a sand heat. The dirty sublimate being taken off, aurum mosaicum was found at the bottom of the matrass. It was recommended in most chronic and nervous cases, and particularly convulsions of children; however, it is no longer recommended for any medical uses.

Sable (heraldry)

In heraldry, sable () is the tincture black, and belongs to the class of dark tinctures, called "colours". In engravings and line drawings, it is sometimes depicted as a region of crossed horizontal and vertical lines, or else marked with sa. as an abbreviation.

The name derives from the black fur of the sable, a species of marten.

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