mi·​cro·​cosm | \ ˈmī-krə-ˌkä-zəm How to pronounce microcosm (audio) \

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

Other Words from microcosm

microcosmic \ ˌmī-​krə-​ˈkäz-​mik How to pronounce microcosm (audio) \ adjective
microcosmically \ ˌmī-​krə-​ˈkäz-​mi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce microcosm (audio) \ 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 But the vehicle — riddled with bullet holes, strewn with baby clothes and spattered with human remains — is a microcosm of the horror that has befallen Ukraine. NBC News, 24 Apr. 2022 Heightening the emotion around masks, however, is a different situation: Air travel is a microcosm of community life. Kent Sepkowitz, CNN, 15 Apr. 2022 Wednesday’s loss at New Orleans was in many ways a microcosm of their season. San Antonio Express-News, 14 Apr. 2022 The Red Ball Express was a microcosm of the larger Black American experience during World War II. Matthew Delmont, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Apr. 2022 Biden’s speech became a microcosm of his first year in office, littered with proposals designed by and for the progressive wing of his party and dressed up in the language of community and the working class. Tony Woodlief, National Review, 4 Mar. 2022 In the end, the scene at the airport was a microcosm of America’s experience in Afghanistan. Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica, 12 Apr. 2022 The latter stages of the third quarter was a microcosm of Howard’s inability to generate offense throughout. Jacob Steinberg, baltimoresun.com, 12 Mar. 2022 This stretch of 6th Street between Western and Vermont avenues is a microcosm of Koreatown and its dichotomies — old and new, traditional and hip, Korean-speaking and English-speaking. Los Angeles Times, 10 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for microcosm

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

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microcosmic salt

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Last Updated

3 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Microcosm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microcosm. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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