Word Origin & History
c.1200 (but not popular until 1848, as a translation of Humboldt's Kosmos), from Gk. kosmos "order, good order, orderly arrangement" (cf. Homeric kosmeo, used of the act of marshaling troops), with an important secondary sense of "ornaments of a woman's dress, decoration" (cf. kosmokomes "dressing the
hair"), also "the universe, the world." Pythagoras is said to have been the first to apply this word to "the universe," perhaps originally meaning "the starry firmament," but later it was extended to the whole physical world, including the earth. For specific reference to "the world of people," the classical phrase was he oikoumene (ge) "the inhabited (earth)." Septuagint uses both kosmos and oikoumene. Kosmos also was used in Christian religious writing with a sense of "worldly life, this world (as opposed to the afterlife)," but the more frequent word for this was aion, lit. "lifetime, age."