Definition of microcosm in US English:


(also microcosmos)


  • 1A community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristic qualities or features of something much larger.

    ‘Berlin is a microcosm of Germany, in unity as in division’
    • ‘The coaching situation is a microcosm of the differences between the way the two franchises operate.’
    • ‘It is tempting to view the situation as a microcosm of his later life.’
    • ‘A single medley, out of a captivating 40-minute set, offers a microcosm of their gifts.’
    • ‘I like to film these microcosms, highly-structured societies, small communities, groups within a very specific space.’
    • ‘Currently, the city is a microcosm of the lurching recovery of the country.’
    • ‘Her women are not feminist case studies but microcosms of the complex rules and regulations that govern such states.’
    • ‘In this respect, Dresden is a microcosm of the situation throughout the former East Germany.’
    • ‘She who had abandoned the world outside the cloister walls found the microcosm of the community within too large.’
    • ‘Schools are microcosms of society and so, inevitably, there are bound to be examples of unacceptable and antisocial behaviour.’
    • ‘This small group of characters was a microcosm of the real world.’
    • ‘In a way, the Island thus becomes a microcosm of urban society.’
    • ‘As a junior at Onteora High School, I saw my school become a microcosm of the situation in the larger community.’
    • ‘In this example, the island airport is a microcosm of the city and is accessed by one long bridge from the mainland.’
    • ‘In sustaining living communities, collections of buildings such as colleges and campuses, as microcosms of the city typology, always need to grow.’
    • ‘The earliest foreign settlements were microcosms of European metropolitan societies.’
    • ‘The reserve is a microcosm of the characteristic old Herefordshire landscape comprising hay meadows and orchards enclosed by thick hedgerows.’
    • ‘The ideal jury is a microcosm of the community from which it is drawn.’
    • ‘Certainly, these little microcosms of society that are our colleges should model, as closely as possible, what is best about our diverse, democratic, and pragmatic society.’
    • ‘At their best they offer a microcosm of Red Sea reef life.’
    • ‘Airports have become small microcosms of society.’
    1. 1.1 Humankind regarded as the epitome of the universe.
      • ‘It is how we have come to know what we are - and what we are is (to use some old language) a microcosm of the macrocosm.’
      • ‘This album's strength lies in addressing both microcosm and macrocosm.’
      • ‘Thus, TCM views each of us as part of one unbroken whole, a microcosm, or smaller universe of Nature.’
      • ‘Some of these traditions also mapped this onto the breath as a way of talking about macrocosm and microcosm.’
      • ‘The microcosm as well as the macrocosm is based on a constant harmony of movement, from the atoms to the galaxies.’
      • ‘They can be seen as cosmic instruments, symbolic of manifesting the vibration of each of the planets to bring balance from the macrocosm to us as the microcosm.’
      • ‘The two keys represent the uniting of the microcosm and the macrocosm.’
      • ‘We are considered microcosms of the macrocosm of the universe.’
      • ‘The science of primordial energy relates the electricity of macrocosm and microcosm.’
      • ‘To take off through the air, casting one's gaze across the endless sweep of the universe or upon the no less exciting realm of the microcosm.’
      • ‘Through such liturgy, both the universe as macrocosm and the individual human being as microcosm are transformed, transfigured and deified.’
      • ‘First, that since both macrocosm and microcosm were made by God, therefore there are important analogies between them.’
      • ‘Here, we have the link between the macrocism and the microcosm.’
      • ‘The human being is thus a microcosm, containing in little the same energies as the macrocosm.’
      • ‘Most important is the nearly universal idea of microcosm and macrocosm.’


  • in microcosm

    • In miniature.

      • ‘And that's in microcosm, the story of the global media.’
      • ‘Even worse, they misfired horribly in areas where they were at full strength, their lineout was dreadful and the lineout phase itself offered the match in microcosm.’
      • ‘His advice might be good in microcosm: but if everyone follows it, if everyone submits to misapplied authority, we'll wind up in a police state.’
      • ‘Here, even small things become the world in microcosm.’
      • ‘I loved this film - it's a sharp, tightly edited piece that, in microcosm, tells a story indicative of the massive changes our town is currently experiencing.’
      • ‘Now the new Senior VP faces in microcosm the same problem confronting the task force: there is nothing for her to do.’
      • ‘I think the programme makers were hoping for some kind of Lord of the Flies situation in which the boys would form their own society in microcosm, electing a leader or some form of substitute authority figure.’
      • ‘This was a Cup final but, in truth, it was also Celtic's season in microcosm, full of the insecurities that saw them broken-hearted at Motherwell.’
      • ‘Not only is it my home, my family's home and the southern fringe of Te Tai Tokerau, all of which are the best reasons to love a place, but in microcosm it is everything I love about New Zealand.’
      • ‘The crises of the past two weeks have demonstrated - in microcosm - what is wrong with the health service, and why it needs to be torn down if it is to be transformed.’


Middle English: from Old French microcosme or medieval Latin microcosmus, from Greek mikros kosmos ‘little world’.