microcosm

noun
mi·​cro·​cosm | \ ˈmī-krə-ˌkä-zəm \

Definition of microcosm

1 : a little world especially : the human race or human nature seen as an epitome (see epitome sense 1) of the world or the universe
2 : a community or other unity that is an epitome (see epitome sense 2) of a larger unity The suburb has been the microcosm of the city.
in microcosm
: in a greatly diminished size, form, or scale

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Other Words from microcosm

microcosmic \ ˌmī-​krə-​ˈkäz-​mik \ adjective
microcosmically \ -​mi-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Did You Know?

A microcosm is a "little world" - "mikros kosmos" in Greek. The Greek term was modified to "microcosmus" in Medieval Latin. When early medieval scholars referred to humans as miniature embodiments of the natural universe, they either employed the Latin word microcosmus or they used the English translation, "less world." "Man is callyd the lasse worlde, for he shewyth in hymselfe lyknesse of all the worlde," wrote John Trevisa when he translated the Latin text of Bartholomaeus Anglicus’ encyclopedia in the 14th century. But by the 15th century scholars had adopted an anglicized version of the Latin word, the word we use today - "microcosm."

Examples of microcosm in a Sentence

The village is a microcosm of the whole country. The game was a microcosm of the entire season.

Recent Examples on the Web

As Lepage maps out his family’s unit and those of each of his neighbors, the building springs to numinous life, seeming to contain not just its tenants but multitudes, a cross-section of Quebec and of humanity, the cosmos in microcosm. Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle, "In the memory palace of Robert Lepage’s ‘887,’ there are many mansions," 5 May 2018 In a sense, Walker presented a microcosm of the Spurs’ afternoon in Vegas. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "Summer school in session for Spurs rookie Walker," 10 July 2018 The importance of California California, in some ways, presents a microcosm of the road ahead for Democrats. Jessica Mendoza, The Christian Science Monitor, "For Democrats, all that enthusiasm comes with risks," 20 Mar. 2018 This, in microcosm, is how his death changed it — and how violence rends the fabric of history. Rick Hampson, USA TODAY, "The Witness: Clara Ester, the Lorraine Motel and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.," 20 Mar. 2018 This is a microcosm of what’s happening at the factory right now. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "In Defense of Elon Musk," 16 Oct. 2018 This was just a microcosm of what was happening all over Yugoslavia, as war broke out across the nation. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 5 Weeks to Go Croatia Win Bronze Thanks to Their Golden Boy Davor Šuker," 19 May 2018 Basketball acts as a microcosm of Suga’s life on this song. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "BTS' 50 Best Songs: Critics' Picks," 12 June 2018 Other than that brief period, however, its focus has always looked to Boston as a microcosm of black consciousness in America. James Sullivan, BostonGlobe.com, "WGBH’s ‘Basic Black’ celebrates a big anniversary," 24 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'microcosm.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of microcosm

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for microcosm

Middle English, from Medieval Latin microcosmus, modification of Greek mikros kosmos

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Last Updated

13 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for microcosm

The first known use of microcosm was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for microcosm

microcosm

noun

English Language Learners Definition of microcosm

: something (such as a place or an event) that is seen as a small version of something much larger

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to gather or build up little by little

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