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 game was a microcosm of the Allen experience, with the 24-year-old throwing for 284 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, rushing for 38 yards and catching a touchdown pass on a trick play. C.j. Doon, baltimoresun.com, "NFL MVP watch, Week 10: Kyler Murray is building his case," 17 Nov. 2020 The family's tragic story is a microcosm of what's happening across Utah and the country. Lucy Kafanov, CNN, "A Utah family's tragic story as state buckles under surge of coronavirus cases," 13 Nov. 2020 Wilson's early success has been a microcosm of his team's overall performance this season. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football freshman WR Roman Wilson uses speed to fill Nico Collins-sized void," 10 Nov. 2020 Dance music has in ways always been a microcosm of America itself, with extraordinarily diverse factions existing under the same label. Katie Bain, Billboard, "There Must Be Higher Love: The Significance of Biden’s Victory Speech Closing With a Kygo Track," 9 Nov. 2020 The numbers of infected children are a microcosm of the situation at large, experts said. Theresa Braine New York Daily News, Star Tribune, "Report: Coronavirus cases soar to all-time high among children," 4 Nov. 2020 The battle between Lacey and Gascón is both a microcosm of — and perhaps now the most important battleground in — a national struggle over the future of how prosecutors operate in the U.S. Anita Chabria, Los Angeles Times, "With push for progressive D.A.s, elected prosecutors feel the pressure of a changing profession," 31 Oct. 2020 The parking lot at Lake Elkhorn Middle School in Columbia is a microcosm of American life in 2020. Ana Faguy, baltimoresun.com, "‘I’ve never thought of doing anything else’: Howard’s longtime elections director discusses historic voting season," 29 Oct. 2020 Monroe County, the Pocono Mountain vacation spot where Ms. Fedrick lives, is a microcosm of the state. Robert Gebeloff, New York Times, "They Did Not Vote in 2016. Why They Plan to Skip the Election Again.," 26 Oct. 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

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Microcosm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microcosm. Accessed 28 Nov. 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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