1 : a little world; especially : the human race or human nature seen as an epitome of the world or the universe
2 : a community or other unity that is an epitome of a larger unity
The city’s downtown shopping district, where several stores have come and gone in the last six months, is a microcosm of the nation’s fluctuating economy as a whole.
"The pushing and shoving among men in suits to get a seat were a microcosm of the fierce competition and frenetic pace of a wireless industry here for its largest annual gathering. It was a stampede of the electronics industry to mobility." -- From an article by Sharon Chan in The Seattle Times, February 15, 2011
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."
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
What word comes from "kosmos" and refers to the scientific study of the origin and structure of the universe? The answer is ...
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP