1. All spacetime, matter, and energy, including the solar system, all stars and galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space, regarded as a whole.
2. A hypothetical whole of spacetime, matter, and energy that is purported to exist simultaneously with but to be different from this universe: an alternate universe.
a. A model or conception of the earth and everything else that exists: “Apart from celestial beings, the aboriginals' universe contained spirits of the land and sea” (Madhusree Mukerjee).
b. The human race or a subset of it: “It was a universe that took slavery for granted” (Adam Hochschild).
4. A sphere of interest, activity, or understanding: “their almost hermetically sealed-off universe of part-time jobs and study and improvised meals” (Sue Miller).
5. Logic See universe of discourse.
6. Statistics See population.
[Middle English, from Old French univers, from Latin ūniversum, from neuter of ūniversus, whole : ūnus, one; see oi-no- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + versus, past participle of vertere, to turn; see wer-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.