mi·​cro·​cosm ˈmī-krə-ˌkä-zəm How to pronounce microcosm (audio)
: a little world
especially : the human race or human nature seen as an epitome (see epitome sense 1) of the world or the universe
: 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.
microcosmic adjective
microcosmically adverb
in microcosm
: in a greatly diminished size, form, or scale

Did you know?

Small wonder that the oldest meaning of microcosm in our dictionary is “little world”: the word comes ultimately from the Greek phrase mikros kosmos, meaning “little universe.” That meaning can be applied to many a wee realm, as in “the microcosm of the atom,” but microcosm was originally used by medieval scholars specifically to refer to humans as miniature embodiments of the natural universe. Microcosm soon expanded to refer to places (such as neighborhoods or other communities) thought to embody at a small scale characteristics of larger places, and later to anything serving as an apt representation of something bigger—as when Arthur C. Clarke, famed author of much fiction and nonfiction set in the cosmos, noted that “a sunken ship is a microcosm of the civilization that launched it.”

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 Kolkata, a city of more than 4.5 million in eastern India, is a microcosm of who will benefit from that protection and who won’t. Anant Gupta, Washington Post, 22 Sep. 2023 Thornhill, in some ways, is a microcosm of the Browns defense as a whole. Dan Labbe, cleveland, 6 Sep. 2023 The back-and-forth is a mere microcosm of the culture wars ripping our country apart. Erika D. Smith, Los Angeles Times, 7 Aug. 2023 Nathan Moeder, a real estate analyst with London Moeder Advisors, recently spoke about the Mission Valley centers as if a microcosm of the broader picture of stressed commercial properties. Michael Smolens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 July 2023 The league’s presence at Gillette is a microcosm of its growth around the nation. Trevor Hass, BostonGlobe.com, 4 Sep. 2023 McKinney’s dip in entry-level housing options is simply a microcosm of what’s going on across the country. Haeven Gibbons, Dallas News, 31 Aug. 2023 The downturn of the city’s Union Square is a microcosm of that struggle. Samantha Delouya, CNN, 30 Aug. 2023 Among the microcosm of compact critters are the world's tiniest vertebrates – animals that, despite their diminutive size, harbor all the complex components necessary for life with a backbone. Anna Nordseth, Discover Magazine, 1 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'microcosm.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near microcosm

Cite this Entry

“Microcosm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microcosm. Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


mi·​cro·​cosm ˈmī-krə-ˌkäz-əm How to pronounce microcosm (audio)
: an individual or community thought of as a miniature universe or a world in itself
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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