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microcosm

[mahy-kruh-koz-uh m] /ˈmaɪ krəˌkɒz əm/
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.
Also called microcosmos
[mahy-kruh-koz-muh s, -mohs] /ˌmaɪ krəˈkɒz məs, -moʊs/ (Show IPA)
.
Origin
1150-1200
1150-1200; Middle English microcosme < Medieval Latin mīcrocosmus < Greek mīkròs kósmos small world. See micro-, cosmos
Related forms
microcosmic, microcosmical, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for microcosm
  • India is a microcosm representative of the whole world in its diversity.
  • Evolution of a newborn into an adult is a microcosm of evolving into something different.
  • It's just a very rich little microcosm here.
  • Fraternities are a microcosm of society.
  • But this game proved to be a microcosm of their season, starting with a bang and ending with a thud.
  • It's a microcosm of society.
  • The area thus is a microcosm that may well show what can happen in any area covered with a rain of insecticides.
  • It's a microcosm of what I see on the news.
  • It is merely a microcosm of the whole country.
  • This could be a microcosm of the series.
British Dictionary definitions for microcosm

microcosm

/ˈmaɪkrəʊˌkɒzəm/
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
Compare macrocosm
Derived Forms
microcosmic, 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
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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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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microcosm in Culture

microcosm definition


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 American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for microcosm

(from Greek mikros kosmos, "little world"), a Western philosophical term designating man as being a "little world" in which the macrocosm, or universe, is reflected. The ancient Greek idea of a world soul (e.g., in Plato) animating the universe had as a corollary the idea of the human body as a miniature universe animated by its own soul. The notion of the microcosm dates, in Western philosophy, from Socratic times (Democritus specifically referred to it)-i.e., from the 5th century BC. Propagated especially by the Neoplatonists, the idea passed to the Gnostics, to the Christian scholastics, to the Jewish Kabbalists, and to such Renaissance philosophers as Paracelsus. The supposed analogy between the whole and its parts served not only to develop a cosmology in which the reality of the individual received due attention but was also fundamental to astrology and other fields in which belief in a metaphysical relationship between man and the rest of nature is postulated. In later philosophy the monadology of G.W. Leibniz presented a comparable view of man and the universe; and, in the 19th century, Rudolf Lotze chose Mikrokosmus as the title of his major work on the theory of knowledge and reality.

Learn more about microcosm with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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