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 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 This game proved to be sort of a microcosm of the year. Jim Derry | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "Top 20 St. Tammany Football Games of 2020 (Nos. 10 through 1)," 13 Jan. 2021 The still lifes are artificial in the extreme — eccentrically colored, sometimes as architectonically constructed as a building, occasionally evoking a vast landscape contained within the microcosm of a flower vase. Los Angeles Times, "Roland Reiss dies at 91, leaving a 60-year legacy as L.A. artist and educator," 31 Dec. 2020 From bad to worse, this hospital is a perfect microcosm of how the disease is escalating -- even as vaccines are being rolled out across the country. Miguel Marquez, Jay Croft And Carolyn Sung, CNN, "Revisiting a Houston hospital relentlessly under siege by Covid-19," 22 Dec. 2020 An emotional read: but an important look at how the challenges wider society has faced in 2020 are magnified inside the microcosm of a Texas prison. Carolyn Wells, Longreads, "Longreads Best of 2020: Crime Reporting," 7 Dec. 2020 Hsieh wanted to create a microcosm of Silicon Valley that was infused with the ethos of Burning Man. Aimee Groth, Quartz at Work, "The complexity and brilliance of Tony Hsieh: a personal appreciation," 30 Nov. 2020 In Henigan’s mind, that play from Marsh was a microcosm of why Ryan started as the preseason No. 1 team in the state and ended as the undefeated state champion. Joseph Hoyt, Dallas News, "Ty Marsh did it all in Denton Ryan’s title win — and is a perfect example of why the Raiders were dominant all year long," 15 Jan. 2021 Miami—pronounced by locals—is a microcosm of the larger fight over climate change and pollution, where battle lines are drawn according to the combatants’ wealth, power and influence. Popular Science, "Oklahoma floods are poisoning tribal lands," 23 Dec. 2020 Pierpoint serves as a microcosm of the current corporate, misogynistic culture that plagues the high finance industry. Reana Johnson, refinery29.com, "Harper’s Shocking Industry Finale Decision Isn’t Really All That Shocking," 4 Dec. 2020

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

8 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Microcosm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microcosm. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for microcosm



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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