microcosm

noun
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

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Other Words from microcosm

microcosmic \ ˌmī-​krə-​ˈkäz-​mik How to pronounce microcosmic (audio) \ adjective
microcosmically \ -​mi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce microcosmically (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

Long seen as a microcosm of Nigeria, the region of six million people is divided between a Christian south and Muslim north, separated by a river. Joe Parkinson, WSJ, "Nigeria Braces for Climax of Rancorous Presidential Showdown," 15 Feb. 2019 Hanoi also happens to be a perfect microcosm for the region—the timely, the timeless, the graceful, the infuriating, and the unfathomably delicious, all in a single, compact, and (relatively) manageable city. Peter Jon Lindberg, Condé Nast Traveler, "Hanoi, Time and Again," 20 Nov. 2018 The very essence of sport means that there has to be a winner and a loser, with a penalty shootout a microcosm of this. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 7 Weeks to Go - Heartbreak For England After Semi Final Defeat to West Germany," 6 May 2018 Contributions from everywhere, a microcosm of this special season. Ralph D. Russo, chicagotribune.com, "No. 1 Virginia wins ACC title, 71-63 over No. 12 North Carolina," 10 Mar. 2018 In sum, Tuesday’s PA-18 is a perfect microcosm of much of the Trump Era: So much attention and such high stakes on something that didn’t have to be this big – and in large part because Trump made it so. Chuck Todd, NBC News, "How Trump turned a minor election into a major referendum on himself," 8 Mar. 2018 The recent case of the striking Marriott hotel workers — a diverse group of workers who were predominantly women and people of color — was a perfect microcosm of the U.S. working class in 2018. Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue, "What the "Working Class" Is, and How It's Politicized," 13 Dec. 2018 This bar and restaurant strip in Old Fourth Ward and Sweet Auburn—just a block from the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr.—is, in many ways, a microcosm of real Atlanta culture. Megan Barber, Curbed, "The 16 most Instagrammable places in U.S. cities," 18 July 2018 But at its best, this one taps into a similar futuristic-societal-microcosm vibe. Michael Phillips, latimes.com, "Jodie Foster patches the wounded in lively future-crime saga 'Hotel Artemis'," 8 June 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

10 Mar 2019

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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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