Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A small, representative system having analogies to a larger system in constitution, configuration, or development: "He sees the auto industry as a microcosm of the U.S. itself” ( William J. Hampton).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A little world; a miniature universe. Hence (so called by Paracelsus), a man, as a supposed epitome of the exterior universe or great world. Opposed to macrocosm.
  • n. A relatively small object or system considered as representative of a larger system of which it is part, exhibiting many features of the complete system.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A little world or cosmos; the world in miniature; something representing or assumed to represent the principle of universality: often applied to man regarded as an epitome, physically and morally, of the universe or great world (the macrocosm).
  • n. A little community or society.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a miniature model of something

Etymologies

Middle English microcosme, man as a little world, from Old French, from Late Latin mīcrocosmus, from Greek mīkros kosmos : mīkros, small + kosmos, world, order.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French microcosme, from Latin microcosmus, from Ancient Greek μικρός (mikrós, "small") + κόσμος (kosmos, "world"). (Wiktionary)

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