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From English para- (prefix meaning ‘alongside, beside’) (from Ancient Greek παρα- (para-, prefix meaning ‘beside’)) + English cosm(os) (universe) (from Ancient Greek κόσμος (kósmos, the earth, world; universe), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ḱems-, *ḱens- (to put in order)).



paracosm (plural paracosms)

  1. A detailed imaginary world, especially one created by a child.
    Synonyms: conworld, paracosmos (rare)
    • 1990, Dorothy G. Singer; Jerome L. Singer, “Imaginary Playmates and Imaginary Worlds”, in The House of Make-Believe: Children’s Play and the Developing Imagination, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, →ISBN; paperback edition, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992, →ISBN, page 116:
      Imaginary playmates and paracosms may chiefly represent the vast creative potential of inherently talented people, but in less elaborated forms, they may also represent what childhood imagination can offer to the growing person. Humanity has already benefited from the paracosmic visions of Plato, Thomas More, Aldous Huxley, Thomas Hobbes, Arthur Tappan Wright[sic, meaning Austin Tappan Wright] (Islandia), and J. R. R. Tolkien.
    • 1999, Marjorie Taylor, “Do Older Children and Adults Create Imaginary Companions?”, in Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 136:
      Occasionally the fantasies of older childhood go well beyond the invention of a pretend friend. In fact, some children, typically at about 9 or 10 years of age, create "paracosms"—entire societies or worlds for the imaginary people to inhabit. [...] How common is it for children to create such elaborate fantasies, and what does the invention of a paracosm say about its creator?
    • 2005, Delmont C. Morrison; Shirley Linden Morrison, Memories of Loss and Dreams of Perfection: Unsuccessful Childhood Grieving and Adult Creativity (Imagery and Human Development Series), Amityville, N.Y.: Baywood Publishing, →ISBN, page 72:
      As Emily [Brontë] turned in on herself for resources, she created a new paracosm, the Kingdom of Gondal, which she shared with Anne [Brontë]. The paracosm of Gondal became a way of life for the sisters; they shared its secrets for the rest of their lives.
    • 2007, Thomas Armstrong, “Middle Childhood: Entering the Civilized World”, in The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life, New York, N.Y.: Sterling Publishing, →ISBN, page 93:
      One paracosm in their study was a country called Branmail consisting totally of cats — except for its creator, a six-year-old girl named Holly who had access to the world by scaling a height called Bumpety Banks.
    • 2010, Sarah Lynne Bowman, “Role-playing as Alteration of Identity”, in The Functions of Role-playing Games: How Participants Create Community, Solve Problems and Explore Identity, Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, →ISBN, page 130:
      The children created these inner worlds for a number of reasons, though each paracosm tends to be a long-lasting, heavily structured, and internally consistent.

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