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microcosm

[mahy-kruh-koz-uh m]
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noun
  1. a little world; a world in miniature (opposed to macrocosm).
  2. anything that is regarded as a world in miniature.
  3. human beings, humanity, society, or the like, viewed as an epitome or miniature of the world or universe.
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Origin of microcosm

1150–1200; Middle English microcosme < Medieval Latin mīcrocosmus < Greek mīkròs kósmos small world. See micro-, cosmos
Also called mi·cro·cos·mos [mahy-kruh-koz-muh s, -mohs] /ˌmaɪ krəˈkɒz məs, -moʊs/.
Related formsmi·cro·cos·mic, mi·cro·cos·mi·cal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for microcosm

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The microcosm of the human body is the lesser image of the macrocosm.

    Timaeus

    Plato

  • Each particle is a microcosm, and faithfully renders the likeness of the world.

    Nature

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • It is quite true that to a man with his gifts any microcosm will do for a macrocosm in miniature.

    Sir Walter Scott

    George Saintsbury

  • Their organization was a microcosm of that of the entire empire.

  • But I perceive now that my thought was a seed containing my omniscience in microcosm.


British Dictionary definitions for microcosm

microcosm

microcosmos (ˌmaɪkrəʊˈkɒzmɒs)

noun
  1. a miniature representation of something, esp a unit, group, or place regarded as a copy of a larger one
  2. man regarded as epitomizing the universe
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Compare macrocosm
Derived Formsmicrocosmic or microcosmical, adjective

Word Origin

C15: via Medieval Latin from Greek mikros kosmos little world
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for microcosm

n.

c.1200, mycrocossmos (modern form from early 15c.), "human nature, man viewed as the epitome of creation," literally "miniature world," from Middle French microcosme and in earliest use directly from Medieval Latin microcosmus, from Greek mikros "small" (see mica) + kosmos "world" (see cosmos). General sense of "a community constituting a world unto itself" is attested from 1560s. Related: Microcosmic. A native expression in the same sense was petty world (c.1600).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

microcosm in Culture

microcosm

A representation of something on a much smaller scale. Microcosm means “small world,” and in the thought of the Renaissance, it was applied specifically to human beings, who were considered to be small-scale models of the universe, with all its variety and contradiction. (Compare macrocosm.)

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.