cosmos (n.)

c. 1200, "the universe, the world" (but not popular until 1848, when it was taken as the English equivalent to Humboldt's Kosmos in translations from German), from Latinized form of Greek kosmos "order, good order, orderly arrangement," a word with several main senses rooted in those notions: The verb kosmein meant generally "to dispose, prepare," but especially "to order and arrange (troops for battle), to set (an army) in array;" also "to establish (a government or regime);" "to deck, adorn, equip, dress" (especially of women). Thus kosmos had an important secondary sense of "ornaments of a woman's dress, decoration" (compare kosmokomes "dressing the hair," and cosmetic) as well as "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 it later 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 aiōn, literally "lifetime, age."

The word cosmos often suggested especially "the universe as an embodiment of order and harmony."

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cosmetology (n.)

"art or practice of beauty culture," 1855, from French cosmétologie, from Latinized form of Greek kosmetos "well-ordered," from kosmein "to arrange, adorn," from kosmos "order; ornament" (see cosmos) + -ology.

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cosmopolite (n.)

"man of the world; citizen of the world, one who is cosmopolitan in ideas or life," 1610s, from Latinized form of Greek kosmopolites "citizen of the world," from kosmos "world" (see cosmos) + polites "citizen," from polis "city" (see polis). In common use 17c. in a neutral sense; it faded in 18c. but was revived from c. 1800 with a tinge of reproachfulness (opposed to patriot).

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cosmetic (adj.)

1640s, "pertaining to beauty, improving beauty," from French cosmétique (16c.), from Latinized form of Greek kosmetikos "skilled in adornment or arrangement," from kosmein "to arrange, adorn," from kosmos "order; ornament" (see cosmos). Related: Cosmetical (1550s). Of surgery, from 1926. Figurative sense of "superficial, affecting the appearance only" is from 1955. Related: Cosmetically.

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cosmogony (n.)

1690s, "a theory of the creation;" 1766 as "the creation of the universe;" 1777 as "science of the origin of the universe," from Latinized form of Greek kosmogonia "creation of the world," from kosmos "world, universe" (see cosmos) + -gonia "a begetting," from gonos "birth" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget"). Related: Cosmogonal; cosmogonic; cosmogonist.

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macrocosm (n.)

c. 1600, "the great world" (the universe, as distinct from the "little world" of man and human societies), from French macrocosme (c. 1300) and directly from Medieval Latin macrocosmus, from Greek makros "large, long" (from PIE root *mak- "long, thin") + kosmos "world," also "order, harmonious arrangement" (see cosmos). Compare microcosm. The concept, if not the word, generally is traced to Democritus (5c. B.C.E.). Related: Macrocosmic.

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cosmic (adj.)

1640s, "worldly, of this world," a sense now obsolete, from Latinized form of Greek kosmikos "worldly, earthly, of the world," from kosmos "world-order, world" (see cosmos). Cosmical "related to the earth" is attested from 1580s. 

Modern sense of "of or pertaining to the universe," especially as conceived as subject to a harmonious system of laws, is from 1846. Meaning "related to or dealing with the cosmos, forming part of the material universe beyond the earth or the solar system" is from 1871. In reference to inconceivably vast space or protracted time, from 1874. Related: Cosmically.

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cosmetic (n.)

c. 1600, "the art of beautifying, art of anointing or decorating the human body," from Latinized form of Greek kosmetike (tekhnē) "the art of dress and ornament," from fem. of kosmetikos "skilled in adornment or arrangement," from kosmein "to arrange, adorn," from kosmos "order; ornament" (see cosmos). The adjective is feminine because tekhne is a feminine noun.

Meaning "a preparation for beautifying, preparation that renders the n soft and pure or improves the complexion" (originally also the hair) is attested from 1640s. Related: Cosmetics.

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microcosm (n.)

late 12c., mycrocossmos (modern form from early 15c.), "human nature, man viewed as the epitome of creation," literally "miniature world," from Medieval Latin microcosmus, from Greek mikros "small" (see micro-) + kosmos "world" (see cosmos).

General sense of "a community constituting a world unto itself, a little society" is attested from 1560s, perhaps from French microcosme. A native expression in the same sense was petty world (c. 1600).

Forrþi mahht tu nemmnenn mann Affterr Grikkishe spæche Mycrocossmos, þat nemmnedd iss Affterr Ennglisshe spæche Þe little werelld. ["Ormulum," c. 1175]
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cosmology (n.)

1650s, "general science or theory of the material universe as an ordered whole," from Modern Latin cosmologia, from Greek kosmos (see cosmos) + -logia "discourse" (see -logy). By 1753 as "the branch of metaphysics which discusses the ultimate philosophical problems relating to the existence of the universe." Related: Cosmologist.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars—on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.
[Robert Frost, from "Desert Places," 1936]
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