[ mahy-kruh-koz-uhm ]
See synonyms for: microcosmmicrocosmic on Thesaurus.com

  1. a little world; a world in miniature (opposed to macrocosm): The human body is a microcosm.

  2. anything regarded as a representative, miniature version of a larger complex reality: The fictional small town of Black Rock, California, serves as a microcosm of America in the postwar era.

  1. Environmental Science. a controlled experimental environment or ecosystem small enough to be housed in a laboratory and reproducing conditions that occur on a larger scale in the outdoors: Researchers have investigated the survival of this bacteria in saline solutions and seawater in laboratory microcosms.: Compare mesocosm.

  2. human beings, humanity, society, or the like, viewed as an epitome or miniature of the world or universe: In the human microcosm, intellect is the deep spiritual center of being.

Origin of microcosm

First recorded in 1150–1200; micro- + -cosm
  • Also called mi·cro·cos·mos [mahy-kruh-koz-muhs, -mohs]. /ˌmaɪ krəˈkɒz məs, -moʊs/.

Other words from microcosm

  • mi·cro·cos·mic [mahy-kruh-koz-mik], /ˌmaɪ krəˈkɒz mɪk/, mi·cro·cos·mi·cal, adjective

Words Nearby microcosm

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use microcosm in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for microcosm


microcosmos (ˌmaɪkrəʊˈkɒzmɒs)

/ (ˈmaɪkrəʊˌkɒzəm) /

  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

Origin of microcosm

C15: via Medieval Latin from Greek mikros kosmos little world

Derived forms of microcosm

  • microcosmic or microcosmical, adjective

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

Cultural definitions for 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.)

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.