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Mike vs. Mic: Which Abbreviation is Correct?

By AudioMan
Posted on Thursday, August 5, 2010
Category: Microphones, Pro Audio, Recording, Sound Reinforcement


AKG CK93: Is it a Mic or a Mike?It’s a familiar dilemma to those of us who write about audio: What’s the abbreviation for microphone, “mike” or “mic”?

For years (since roughly 1961, in fact), the former abbreviation – “mic” – has been the preferred choice of the pro audio industry.

This does lead to problems, however. When you place a “mic” in front of an amp, is the amp “miced”? Or “miked”? Or (horrors!) “mic’d”? The abbreviation simply refuses to comply with standard English rules for spelling and pronunciation (or common sense, for that matter).

What IS the correct abbreviation for microphone, anyway?

“Mic” Gets the Nod For Now

Just last week, the New York Times weighed in on this venerable debate.

Ben Zimmer, in an “On Language” column, ceded defeat (more or less) to the forces in the pro-audio and production industry that have long preferred the abbreviation “mic.”

But he does so under duress.

While he concedes that “mic” is acceptable as a noun (if we ignore the logical tendency to pronounce it “mick”), once the word becomes a verb, we’re plunged into a world of  sloppy tense forms.

For example, what should readers make of the rodent-esque terms “miced” or “micing”, which clearly dictate a soft “C” sound and a long “I”?

The AP Saves the Day (Sort Of)

The Associated Press, in a unilateral decision earlier this year,  sidesteps that  problem by allowing the past tense form “miked”, and the continuous tense form “miking”. But then, of course, we’re left with a glaring inconsistency in spelling between the noun and verb.

Public opinion (as gleaned from Google search results), at any rate, seems to be firmly in the “mic” camp.

But the argument is far from over. Samuel Bayer (also cited in Zimmer’s column)  makes a strong case for “mike” in this well-researched and entertaining blog post.

But in my eyes, the approved AP spelling (and its verb-form compromise)  seems the best solution to the conundrum- and gradually, you’ll see it reflected across the AudioLinks website.



Comments


3 Responses to “Mike vs. Mic: Which Abbreviation is Correct?”

  1. Tim Wahl Says:

    Per the mic vs. mike debate, my two cents. Mic could be the choice no matter what. No need to chew on it being “miced.” Look at it this way with the word picnic, a noun. As a verb it becomes picknicked. “we went on a picnic; we picknicked until lat in the evening. Politics in another one: He is good at politicking.

  2. AudioLinks Team Says:

    Thanks for your great feedback Tim!

    -AudioLinks Team

  3. Pete Says:

    But picnic still rhymes with mick or sick. I’m okay with spelling it mic, so long as you pronounce it accordingly. I’m going to stick with mike.

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