‘Macro' vs 'Micro': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on December 6, 2022

What’s the difference between ‘macro’ and ‘micro’? They sound similar, but they mean two totally different things. We’ll cover the definition and meaning of both words, plus you’ll see examples of how to use them both in a sentence correctly.

Don’t feel like skimming for the answer? Here’s the short version:

  • ‘Macro’ means large, thick, or exceptionally prominent.
  • ‘Micro’ means very small.

As you can see, they have opposite meanings.

Macro vs. Micro – What’s the Difference?

So, you’ve learned that ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ are opposites and have opposite meanings.

‘Macro’ means large, and ‘micro’ means small.

Microeconomics vs. Macroeconomics: What’s the Difference?

You might’ve heard the terms ‘microeconomics’ and ‘macroeconomics.’ Remembering the difference might seem complicated. However, to clear that up, microeconomics and macroeconomics are two categories of economics.

‘Microeconomics’ refers to the study of individuals and business decisions.

‘Macroeconomics’ refers to the decisions of countries and governments.

As you can see, ‘microeconomics’ studies the economy on a smaller scale, while ‘macroeconomics’ studies the economy on a larger scale.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Macro’ 

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘macro’ is: “being large, thick, or exceptionally prominent,” “of, involving, or intended for use with relatively large quantities or on a large scale,” “of or relating to macroeconomics,” “gross,” and “of or relating to a macro lens or close-up photography.”

It also means: “a single computer instruction that stands for a sequence of operations” and “large: on a large scale,” and “often used in compounds with a corresponding compound formed with micro-.”

Definition and Meaning of ‘Micro’ 

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘micro’ is: “very small,” “microscopic,” and “involving minute quantities or variations.”

Macro vs. Micro – How to Use Each Correctly

Now that we know the meaning of both words, we can take a look at some examples of how to use them in a sentence correctly.

Here’s how you’d use ‘macro’ in a sentence:

  • I studied macroeconomics in high school and college.
  • The photographer lost his macro lens when taking photos at the lake.
  • When in macro mode, you can’t zoom in or out.
  • I’m on a macrobiotic diet, which means I can only eat whole grains and veggies.
  • Don’t mess with the macrocosm of the organization.

Now, let’s see some examples of how to use ‘micro’ in a sentence:

  • I’m not fond of microeconomics, which is probably why I failed the class.
  • The microscope might have been broken before I entered the lab.
  • I didn’t know you were a microbiologist; your job must be so interesting.
  • There are thousands of microorganisms we can’t even see with the naked eye.
  • Don’t micromanage your employees; instead, give them reasons to be grateful.

Final Thoughts on ‘Macro’ and ‘Micro’

Now that you know the meaning of both words and you have examples of how to use them both correctly in a sentence, you should have no problem doing the same.

If you ever get stuck, you can always come back here and refresh your memory. We’ve got a ton of content dedicated to explaining common confusing words you might come across when learning (or brushing up on) your American English.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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