Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia

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A comprehensive, one-volume desk reference that delivers up-to-date, authoritative information about every aspect of today's world. Drawing on the vast resources and databases of Encyclopedia Britannica and Merriam-Webster, this encyclopedia provides a rich source of answers to questions about the full range of human endeavors including such important areas as art, business, computers, geography, foreign affairs, history, literature, medicine, ...
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A comprehensive, one-volume desk reference that delivers up-to-date, authoritative information about every aspect of today's world. Drawing on the vast resources and databases of Encyclopedia Britannica and Merriam-Webster, this encyclopedia provides a rich source of answers to questions about the full range of human endeavors including such important areas as art, business, computers, geography, foreign affairs, history, literature, medicine, music, politics, pop culture, religion, science, and technology.


  • More than 25,000 clear and precise articles
  • Over 1,700 illustrations
  • 225 maps
  • Includes pronunciations.

Highlights include:

  • Art:Abstract Art, Getty Museum, Keith Haring, Petronas Towers, Photorealism, world heritage site
  • Business:APEC, Euro, luxury tax, systems analysis, vertical integration
  • Computers:Client/server architecture, digital camera, Ethernet, Steven Jobs, pixel, Web site
  • Geography:Alcatraz Island, Big Sur, Great Barrier Reef, Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, Yalta
  • Foreign Affairs:Kofi Annan, nonproliferation treaty, pacifism, Red Cross, Six-Day War
  • Medicine:Accupressure, aromatherapy, autoimmune disease, dengue, HIV, mad cow disease, tamoxifen
  • Music:Bouzouki, Kurt Cobain, eurhythmics, Wynton Marsalis, raga, singspiel
  • Religion:Aga Khan, Aum Shinrikyo, Mircea Eliade, Kwanzaa, meditation, Reinhold Niebuhr
  • Science:Biodiversity, Jacques Cousteau, endangered species, flavonoid, Jane Goodall, Comet Hale-Bopp
  • Technology:Alternative energy, high-definition television, organic farming, recycling.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A new title in the "Merriam-Webster's Collegiate" line, this one-volume reference resulted from a collaboration with the editorial staff of the Encyclopedia Britannica. In fact, the articles here (over 25,000) are based on Britannica's flagship 32-volume set. The editors have managed to pack considerable information into this work, which is physically the same size as the Concise Columbia Encyclopedia (Houghton, 1994) but has twice as many pages and half again as many entries. And what entries they are! The articles are well researched, clearly written, and comprehensive yet keep between 40 and 700 words in length. In addition, the cartographers did an amazing job. The map included with each country entry is readable, visually interesting, and filled with useful information; cities other than the capital are included, as are landmarks and other distinguishing features. Each of these entries also contains a smaller map showing the country's location on the globe, more evidence of the attention to detail one finds throughout the work. All in all, this is a wonderful encyclopedia. Recommended for public and academic libraries.--Manya Chylinski, Ctr. for Business Knowledge, Ernst & Young, Boston Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
This conveniently-sized encyclopedia is a portable and inexpensive desktop reference to put alongside your dictionary. The volume includes 25,000 entries, 1,300 photographs and illustrations, 350 maps and diagrams, and thankfully includes pronunciations of some words and names. Developed with , the reference features clear and concise entries of about 100-300 words. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From The Critics
Collegiate Encyclopedia is an excellent new, comprehensive encyclopedia which features over 25,000 entries and numerous photos, maps and illustrations throughout. The A-Z encyclopedia covers topics ranging from ancient Greece to modern technology, creating a desk companion which is an outstanding library addition. The format lends to leisure browsing as much as reference use, and is a handsome presentation. Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780877790174
  • Publisher: Merriam-Webster, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Pages: 1808
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.88 (h) x 2.02 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

(Phonetics omitted in this version)


Aachen French Aix-la-Chapelle City (pop., 1995 est.: 247,000). W Germany, southwest of Cologne. It was inhabited by Romans in the 1st cent. AD. A center of Carolingian culture, and the second city of ·Charlemagne's empire, it was the site of his great palace. The cathedral built by Charlemagne c.800 saw the coronation of most German kings of the 10th-16th cent.; his chapel, with his tomb, remains as part of the larger Gothic cathedral today. Aachen was part of France 1801-15. It is famous for its many spas.

Aaiun, El See ·El Aaiun

Aalto, (Hugo) Alvar (Henrik) (1898-1976) Finnish architect and designer. He graduated from the Technical Institute of Helsinki, and in 1925 married Aino Marsio (d.1949), who served as his collaborator. His reputation rests on a distinctive style that blends classic modernism, indigenous materials (especially timber), and personal expression. His unique blending of modernism and informal regional character was perhaps best expressed in his civic center at Säynätsalo (1950-52), with its simple forms in red brick, wood, and copper. He remains one of the Modern movement's most popular architects: reproductions of his bent laminated wood furniture appear in households worldwide.

aardvark or African ant bear Heavily built mammal (Orycteropus afer) of sub-Saharan forests and plains. Its stout, piglike body ("aardvark" is Afrikaans for "earth pig") may be as long as 6 ft (1.8 m). incl. a 2-ft (60-cm) tail.It has a long snout, rabbitlike ears, short legs, and long toes with large, flattened claws. It feeds at night by ripping open ant and termite nests and lapping up the insects with a long (1-ft, or 30-cm), sticky tongue. Though not aggressive, it uses claws to fight off attackers. Its classification with regard to other mammals is uncertain.

Aare River or Aar River River, central and N Switzerland. The longest river entirely within Switzerland, it flows northwest from the ·Bernese Alps and passes through the Gorge of the Aare and by the city of ·Bern before flowing northeast to enter the ·Rhine at Koblenz, after a course of 183 mi (294 km).

Aarhus See ·Arhus

Aaron (fl.c.13th cent. BC) Brother of ·Moses and first high priest of ancient Israel. Acting as a spokesman for Moses, he played a central role in forcing the pharaoh to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt. God charged Aaron and Moses with commemorating the event at Passover, and Aaron and his sons were given priestly authority by Moses. Though Aaron is a pivotal figure in ·Exodus, he nearly fades from view thereafter. He is mentioned as the one responsible for the Israelites' idolatrous worship of the golden calf while Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the Law from God. His death at 123 is noted in Numbers.

Aaron, Hank (orig. Henry. Louis) (b.1934) U.S. baseball player. Born in Mobile, Ala., he played briefly in the Negro and minor leagues before joining the Milwaukee Braves in 1954. He would play outfield most of his career. By the time the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1965, he had hit 398 home runs; in 1974 he hit his 715th, breaking B. ·Ruth's record. He played his final two seasons (1975-76) with the Milwaukee Brewers. His records for career home runs (755), extra-base hits (1,477), and runs batted in (2,297) remain unbroken, and only T. ·Cobb and P. ·Rose exceeded him in career hits (3,771). He is renowned as one of the greatest hitters of all time.

AARP formerly American Association of Retired Persons Nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that addresses the needs and interests of Americans aged 50 and older. It was founded in 1958 by a retired teacher. Ethel Andrus, and merged in 1982 with the National Retired Teachers Assn., also founded by Andrus (1947). Its bimonthly magazine, Modern Maturity, has the largest circulation of any U.S. periodical. Its membership of more than 30 million and its members' reliably high voting turnout have made it one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the U.S.

abacus Calculating instrument that uses beads that slide along a series of wires or rods set in a frame to represent the decimal places. Probably of Babylonian origin, it is the ancestor of the modern digital calculator. Used by merchants in the Middle Ages throughout Europe and the Arabic world, it was gradually replaced by arithmetic based on ·Hindu-Arabic numerals. Though rarely used in Europe past the 18th cent., it is still used in the Middle East, China, and Japan.

Abahai See ·Hongtaiji

Abakanowicz, Magdalena (b.1930) Polish sculptor. A descendant of nobility, she graduated from Warsaw's Academy of Fine Arts in 1955. She became the pioneer and leading exponent of sculpture made of woven fabrics, calling her three-dimensional weavings "Abakans" (from her surname). She produced series of fabric forms called Heads (1975), Backs (1976-80). Embryology (1980), and Catharsis (1986). She has also exhibited paintings, drawings, and sculptures in other media internationally, and has been widely imitated in Europe and the U.S. She has taught in Poznan since 1965.

abalone Any of several marine ·snail species (genus Haliotis, family Haliotidae), found in warm seas worldwide. The outer surface of the single shell has a row of small holes, most of which fill in as the animal grows; some remain open as outlets for waste products. Abalones range from 4 to 10 in. (10-25 cm) across and up to 3 in. (8 cm) deep. The largest is the 12 in. (30 cm) abalone (H. rufescens). The shell's lustrous, iridescent interior is used in ornaments, and the large muscular foot is eaten as a delicacy. Commercial abalone fisheries exist in California, Mexico, Japan, and S. Africa.

Abate, Niccolo dell' See N. dell'·Abbate

Abbado, Claudio (b.1933) Italian conductor. Born in Milan, he studied piano at its conservatory before beginning to conduct in Vienna. He was long associated with ·La Scala (1968-86), as principal conductor and ultimately as artistic director, as well as with the Vienna Philharmonic. In 1989 he succeeded H. von ·Karajan as permanent conductor and artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonic. He is known for his commitment to adventurous programming, incl. much modern music.

Abbas, Ferhat (1899-1985) Algerian political leader who served as first president of the provisional government of the Algerian Republic (1958). Originally a Francophile, he became disillusioned with France and during World War II issued a condemnation of French rule, demanding a constitution that would grant equality to all Algerians. He joined the ·National Liberation Front (FLN). which helped achieve independence from France 1958-62. He was elected president of the Algerian Constituent Assembly in 1962, but resigned in 1963 following a dispute within the FLN. See also ·Young Algerians.

Abbas I known as Abbas the Great (1571-1629) Shah of Persia 1587-1629. Succeeding his father, Sultan Muhammad Shah, he strengthened the ·Safavid dynasty by expelling Ottoman and Uzbek troops and creating a standing army. He made ·Esfahan Persia's capital, and under Abbas it became one of the world's most beautiful cities. Persian artistic achievement reached a high point during his reign, when illuminated manuscripts, ceramics, and painting all flourished, and the Portuguese, Dutch, and English competed for trade relations with Persia. Tolerant in public life (he granted privileges to Christian groups) and concerned for his people's welfare, his fear for his personal security and ruthlessness led him to blind or execute many of his immediate family.

Abbas Hilmy I (1813-1854) Viceroy of Egypt (1848-54) under the ·Ottoman empire. He succeeded his uncle, Ibrahim, and worked to undo the Westernizing reforms begun by his grandfather. ·Muhammad Ali. He distructed the French, who had worked closely with his grandfather.


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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2001


    Perfect for dormitory rooms, home offices and libraries, this essential volume is affordable,accessible, and authoritative. Created in cooperation with Encyclopedia Britannica as well as a host of academic consultants, Merriam Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia is a one volume treasure of information. It holds more than 25,000 entries covering every facet of scholarship and discipline, such as the arts, business, geography, history, literature, medicine, philosophy, pop culture, religion, science, technology, and up to the minute info regarding computers. Pursuing an area of interest is easy with alphabetically sequenced listings, and 70,000 cross references which lead to additional data. A pronunciation guide with some 10,000 words increases fluency and self-confidence. Graphics heighten interest with photographs, maps, diagrams, and tables, thereby enriching awareness as well as learning. True to its reputation of producing high quality reference materials Merriam-Webster again offers a first-rate volume.

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