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 \ ˌmī-​krə-​ˈkäz-​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 The back and forth is a microcosm of a battle that has played out over and over across the region. Rob Copeland, WSJ, "Google Wants to Pour Money Into San Jose. The City Has a Few Demands.," 28 Jan. 2020 Tonight, in a lot of ways, was a microcosm of our season. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "LendingTree Bowl Countdown: 5 takeaways pace Troy past Ohio," 4 Jan. 2020 Solve the Porter dilemma Porter is a microcosm of the depth problem. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Nuggets journal: Five New Year’s resolutions that could raise Denver’s profile," 28 Dec. 2019 The play was a microcosm of the first few minutes of the half as the Longhorns took a 45-29 lead. Alex Briseno, Dallas News, "Texas outshoots Oklahoma State as Big 12 gauntlet looms," 15 Jan. 2020 The second-half unraveling, in truth, was a microcosm for everything that has happened to the Lakers since the loose Atlanta showing. Marc Stein, New York Times, "Instead of a Merry Christmas, Maybe LeBron Will Have a Happy Birthday," 26 Dec. 2019 The current spat involving Nike and Sketchers is a microcosm for the bigger debate about fast fashion and intellectual property. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Hate lousy service? You’re not alone (not that this changes anything)," 21 Oct. 2019 There’s Pane Bianco, the unsung hero of the Bianco empire, and longtime stalwart Pho Thanh, not only one of the best Vietnamese joints in town, but a microcosm of how our dining scene is growing more inclusive. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "100 essential restaurants in Phoenix: Welcome to Dominic Armato's 2020 list," 8 Jan. 2020 North Carolina has long functioned as a convenient microcosm of America. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "The Decade When Republicans Stole the States," 24 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for microcosm

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

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Last Updated

10 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Microcosm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microcosm. Accessed 16 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for microcosm


How to pronounce microcosm (audio)

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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