mi·​cro·​cosm | \ˈmī-krə-ˌkä-zəm \

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 \ adjective
microcosmically \ -​mi-​k(ə-​)lē \ 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 is a microcosm of what’s happening at the factory right now. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "In Defense of Elon Musk," 16 Oct. 2018 This was just a microcosm of what was happening all over Yugoslavia, as war broke out across the nation. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 5 Weeks to Go Croatia Win Bronze Thanks to Their Golden Boy Davor Šuker," 19 May 2018 Basketball acts as a microcosm of Suga’s life on this song. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "BTS' 50 Best Songs: Critics' Picks," 12 June 2018 Other than that brief period, however, its focus has always looked to Boston as a microcosm of black consciousness in America. James Sullivan, BostonGlobe.com, "WGBH’s ‘Basic Black’ celebrates a big anniversary," 24 Apr. 2018 Tan, a former actress and product manager raised in New Jersey who has spent the last decade commuting between New York and Shanghai, shrinks the 21st-century global stage into the microcosm of Lanson Suites #8202. Terry Hong, The Christian Science Monitor, "'What We Were Promised' depicts post-Mao China in a deft debut novel set in Shanghai," 13 July 2018 Instead, the administration has entered into a high-stakes gambit with neither a strategy nor an off-ramp in sight for either nation, which has turned the standoff into a microcosm of the administration’s blunt, simplistic approach to policy. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Why Trump Might Lose His Trade War With China," 9 July 2018 Walnut Street is a microcosm of what the future of America’s upscale urban retail experience is likely to become. Elizabeth Wellington, Philly.com, "As our definition of luxury shifts, Walnut Street evolves with it | Elizabeth Wellington," 10 July 2018 That is a microcosm of what Suns fans can expect from the first-year coach. Atreya Verma, azcentral, "Suns summer-leaguers buying into Igor Kokoskov's coaching style, defense," 9 July 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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Statistics for microcosm

Last Updated

17 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for microcosm

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on microcosm

Spanish Central: Translation of microcosm

Nglish: Translation of microcosm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of microcosm for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about microcosm

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