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 Mekong River Basin is a microcosm of the Earth's freshwater resources—it includes almost all of the natural forms freshwater takes on Earth: groundwater, lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands." — Eleanor J. Sterling et al., Natural History, November 2007
"When walking through the district today, you see a microcosm of a city—a businessman walking next to a student, walking next to an artist, walking next to a parishioner—a true urban environment stitched together throughout 19 blocks and 68 acres. You see people of all ages, races, genders, shapes, and sizes living and breathing in the same space, creating a rich identity in and of itself." — Kim Butler, D Magazine, 7 Mar. 2017
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
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to complete a word for a nation that is extremely small in area and population: m _ _ r _ _ _ a _ e.VIEW THE ANSWER