Last week, I was among a group of friends and commented on the fact that someone had removed a sticker from their microwave. I used the word "mic" to abbreviate microwave, and people thought I was talking about a microphone. This made me wonder if anyone else actually says that or if my mixed word usage (I'm from New Jersey, but have been living in California for 6+ years) resulted in an original abbreviation.

I'm pretty sure I have been abbreviating microwave this way for quite a while, though. Is it an East Coast thing? Is it a personal thing? I googled for it and checked WordReference, but mic is basically an abbreviation for microphone any way you slice it, it would seem.

So is this a regionalism that others share or is it an abbreviation with low general comprehension?

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    I don't think I've ever come across any slang terms for "microwave oven", but a lot of people refer to the use of it as nuking - "I'll just nuke your dinner, honey!". Commented Jan 2, 2012 at 23:43
  • From NY, never heard to word
    – soandos
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 2:32
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    @FumbleFingers Or "zap it". Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 3:13
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    @David Schwartz: I do hear that, but you certainly can't call the microwave a "zapper", 'cos that word's already been co-opted for the tv remote control. And the lamp thingy that zaps flying pests with a high voltage arc (which kinda puts me off zapping stuff I might be eating! :) Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 3:50
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    It's called a "nuker box" in our household. Never heard of "mic" though.
    – dave
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 18:00

7 Answers 7


Searching for "heat it in the mic" (in quotes) on Google comes up with a number of results, most of them of the forum/blog variety. I think this is evidence enough to show that mic is in use as an abbreviation for microwave, particularly (as you'd expect) in casual contexts.

As I've never heard it used before and have lived in many different US states, I'm inclined to say it's quite dialectical. Which dialect, though, I'm not sure.

  • This was my impression, and this answer basically covers what I was wondering.
    – Kevin K.
    Commented Jan 7, 2012 at 20:43
  • Since originally posting the question, I've looked into my own dialect (east-central coastal New Jersey), and it's a weird, transitional one (word usage, not so much accent). I pronounce merry, Mary, and marry all differently, for example. And I say far-est, not four-est. I'm also in the hoagie-using region, so other regionalisms existing wouldn't be weird.
    – Kevin K.
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 8:30

I've never heard of "mic" as a shortened form of "microwave". I have seen it used for "microphone" many times, particularly on audio equipment, where space is at a premium.

Interestingly, there's a disagreement in the audio community (at least in the US east coast area) about whether we should talk about an "open mic" or an "open mike". "Mic" sounds like "mick" when you say it, but you refer to a "mike-ro-phone", not a "mick-ro-phone". There's an argument that "mic" violates English spelling rules, but this is somewhat specious since we're talking about a language where every rule has exceptions - often many of them. (For more information on why "mic" is incorrect, have a look at this entertaining tirade.)

Merriam-Webster lists "mic" as short for microphone, Micah, or methyl isocyanate. The Online Etymology Dictionary lists it as a shortened form of microphone. Cambridge US and British concur. Pulling out the big gun: The Oxford English Dictionary lists, under "mic", the meaning of "microphone". The definition for "microwave" doesn't mention any abbreviations (but the definition for "microphone" also doesn't list any.)

Going by a descriptivist view, "open mic" gets 53,200,000 hits on Google, "open mike" returns 2,370,000.

In short, I'd conclude that "mic" as a shortened form of "microwave" is probably a regional variation and is not a common usage.

  • Next time someone mentions an "open mic night", I'll be sure to reply that we always keep our methyl isocyanate in closed containers. :-)
    – Jay
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 17:17

I have heard it called a 'mic' by cooks and chefs.

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    I've heard it called "chef mike"
    – horatio
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 19:16
  • The "mic" is sneered at by Gordon Ramsay, the king of ululating culinary cognoscenti. Commented Jan 4, 2012 at 2:50
  • I just saw Gordon defenestrate 'Chef Mic' on Kitchen Nightmares! Commented Jan 21, 2012 at 1:43

In Michigan, where I'm from, I have often heard the term "mic" (pronounced "mike") used both as a noun and a verb in reference to a microwave. (For the record, the noun form is also used in reference to a microphone in these parts.) "I'll just zap it in the mic." Or "Why don't you just mic it?" are oft used phrases around here.

I came across this exchange while furthering my search for the correct spelling. I had been surprised to find that the two dictionaries I had consulted contained no reference to the microwave at all. Both "mic" and "mike" were listed as short forms for "microphone."

So, while the compilers of my dictionary may not agree with me, and while I myself may remain unsure of the correct spelling, I can assure you that when hearing someone say, "just mic it" I have never seen anyone do anything other than heat or cook that thing in the microwave, which leads me to conclude that most folks in my circles are able to get the meaning of "mic/mike", straightaway and without further explanation. Does that make it a word?

  • The ontology of words is hotly debated. Your question is a philosophical question. Regardless, I use "mic/mike" to mean microwave too. By loose standards, it counts as a word. But if by word you mean present in all the prestigious dictionaries, it is not.
    – DyingIsFun
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 21:46

Though it seems to me that the abbreviation for "microphone" is usually written "mike" rather than "mic", except when it is printed next to a socket.


There are no definitions or examples for mic aggregated here that even hint at a microwave.

As a matter of fact, you're much more likely to hear a microwave referred to as a Radarange than you are to hear or see microwave abbreviated as mic. (And Radarange is really old school.)


I had a similar experience a few weeks ago. The users of the term "mike" are from a small town in Northern Wisconsin, yet both an immediate neighbor and fellow badger claim that they have never heard this usage before.

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