“open mike” vs. “open mic”

2018-07-19 06:03:47

I run comedy shows, and at these comedy shows there is always an "open mike" section.

Frequently I get people saying to me, shouldn't it be "open mic", because "mic" should be the shortened version of "microphone".

My case is that "mic" is not a short form, it's an abbreviation, which is different. It's not really meant to be a word, it's only used in conditions where the display of the word does not accommodate all the letters.

With an abbreviation, it is sometimes conventional to place a period at the end to convey that this is just part of a word. Like one would use approx. for approximately.

Mike is the correct short form, the same way "bike" is short for bicycle.

Looking around on the net, there is a lot of discussion, mostly heated, and there are a lot of proponents for "mic".

However, I don't think this is a democratic issue.

I believe the only reason "mic" has bled into spoken English and is mistakenly thought to be more correct than "mike" is because elect

  • Mike is a noun informally used to mean microphone; it is a term used in both British and American English. Mic is a short for microphone.

    Looking at the Corpus of Contemporary American English, there are 119 sentences containing "open mike," and 48 sentences containing "open mic."

    2018-07-19 06:44:25
  • Clearly you've given it a lot of thought, and I don't think there is going to be an argument that will sway you. Merriam-Webster says that both are correct, and classifies them both as nouns (rather than abbreviations). It says mike is older, and has a separate entry for open mike. So you can feel completely comfortable and justified using mike, though you will have a hard time convincing mic fans that mic is wrong, particularly with both being endorsed by a reputable authority. I suspect mic is gaining in popularity relative to mike.

    Personally, I prefer mic because (as noted by Malvolio and Hostile Fork) there is less chance for ambiguity or misunderstanding.

    2018-07-19 07:09:35
  • Certainly whenever a piece of electronic equipment has a microphone jack, it's marked "mic."

    If you put up a sign saying "Open Mike", some fraction on the population will expect a performance by an unusually candid comedian named Michael.

    2018-07-19 07:44:54
  • Why it should be ‘mike’ :

    • It follows spelling convention where a final ‘e’ lengthens the vowel sound as in mad/made.

    • This makes it consistent with other contractions such as bike and nuke.

    • It allows other suffixes to be used without problems, such as ‘miked’, ‘miking’, ‘mikes’, etc.

    • History is on its side, ‘mike’ was first used in the 1920s, mic appeared in the 60s.

    Why it should not be ‘mike’ :

    • It is an old and outdated term that is unfashionable and labels the user a loser.

    Why it should be ‘mic’ :

    • It is the term professionals use.

    • So it is hip and fashionable.

    • Er, that’s it.

    • Oh yes, ‘mike’ might be confused with a boy’s name.

    Why it should not be ‘mic’ :

    • Professionals used it to label electrical equipment – it was short and on labels. When writing an article they used ‘mike’ (though to be hip and fashionable, they now use ‘mic’).

    • Bic, sic, hic and tic are all pronounced to rhyme with mick. ‘Mic’ would make an exception to a rule. Mic

    2018-07-19 08:16:58