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

Soon enough, this van full of people thrown together starts to resemble a microcosm of something more. Mark Olsenstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Indie Focus: It’s on with Fall Movie Sneaks," 30 Aug. 2019 The anticipated job growth in Cincinnati is a good microcosm of what’s driving voter opinion on the economy. cleveland.com, "Attorneys are optimistic for opioid settlements in Midwest lawsuits: The Flyover," 29 Aug. 2019 The serving workforce remains a microcosm of pay disparities in the broader economy. Alana Semuels, Time, "Low Wages, Sexual Harassment and Unreliable Tips. This Is Life in America’s Booming Service Industry," 22 Aug. 2019 In many ways, the migration of the Mlynov descendants to Baltimore is a microcosm of the waves of immigrants, many of them Jewish, that came to the United States from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Jonathan Pitts, baltimoresun.com, "Immigrants from a Russian village flocked to Baltimore, changing its history. Their descendants are celebrating.," 21 Aug. 2019 And in a way, that tiny moment — when the audience sets out to laugh at Keanu and winds up appreciating him even more — is a microcosm of Reeves’s second life as a public figure. Aja Romano, Vox, "Keanu Reeves, explained," 16 Aug. 2019 Mercados begins in the Yucatán and, chapter by chapter, works its way west through every region of Mexico, each market a microcosm of a specific culture and its flavors. Michalene Busico, Dallas News, "'Mercados' cookbook explores the wonders of Mexico's markets and brings home the recipes," 31 July 2019 But the water crisis is only a microcosm of Zimbabwe’s malaise. New York Times, "In Zimbabwe, the Water Taps Run Dry and Worsen ‘a Nightmare’," 31 July 2019 But the edit war provided a microcosm of the larger ongoing internet spoiler war — and a complicated case study in how Wikipedia sources information. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "A Wikipedia spoiler war created a ridiculous fake ending for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood," 30 July 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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Statistics for microcosm

Last Updated

8 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for microcosm

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

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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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Comments on microcosm

What made you want to look up microcosm? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


readily or continually undergoing change

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