a little world; a world in miniature (opposed to macrocosm ).
anything that is regarded as a world in miniature.
human beings, humanity, society, or the like, viewed as an epitome or miniature of the world or universe.
Also called microcosmos [mahy-kruh-koz-muhs, -mohs] .

1150–1200; Middle English microcosme < Medieval Latin mīcrocosmus < Greek mīkròs kósmos small world. See micro-, cosmos

microcosmic, microcosmical, adjective
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World English Dictionary
microcosm or microcosmos (ˈmaɪkrəʊˌkɒzəm, ˌmaɪkrəʊˈkɒzmɒs)
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
[C15: via Medieval Latin from Greek mikros kosmos little world]
microcosmos or microcosmos
[C15: via Medieval Latin from Greek mikros kosmos little world]
micro'cosmic or microcosmos
micro'cosmical or microcosmos

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1426, "human nature, man viewed as the epitome of creation," lit. "miniature world," from M.Fr. microcosme, from M.L. microcosmus, from Gk. mikros "small" + kosmos "world" (see cosmos). General sense of "a community constituting a world unto itself" is attested from 1526.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

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
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Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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