Spelling: Open Mike or Open Mic?

by | Apr 12, 2012 | Grammar and Usage, Uncategorized | 9 comments

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MicrophoneAs proofreaders, we run into the “open mike” or “open mic” question pretty regularly. And there are some strong opinions out there:

Open Mike

Who is this Mike guy?

And what does he have to do with a microphone?

Open Mic

Is that like, “open sesame?”

How exactly does one pronounce “mic”? Rhymes with “tic”?

Some people hate “open mike” because, in theory, microphone would get shortened to “mic.”

And yet, most dictionaries maintain that “open mike” is the correct usage. Wonder why?

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 Some words in the English language that are shortened in unexpected ways:

  • Microphone, MikeOpen Mic
  • Bicycle, Bike
  • Cocaine, Coke
  • Nuclear, Nuke
  • Tricycle, Trike
  • Cucumber, Cuke
  • Jacob, Jake
  • Michael, Mike

This post does a great job of explaining how English got to be so nutty when it comes to shortening our words. Some people continue to prefer “open mic” over “open mike” as a matter of personal preference.

Writer QuestionsQUESTION: Which do you like better? “Open mike” or “open mic”?

 

9 Comments

  1. V.E. Mort

    Personally, I like “open mic;” if I spell it the other way, I feel like I’m playing operation or something.

    Reply
  2. Holly

    I always spelled it “mic” & pronounced it as “mike,” but I never realized there was actually a debate over it? Writer’s Relief always teaches me new things 😉

    Reply
  3. Liv

    I prefer open mic. To me, Mike is Michael – not a microphone!

    Reply
  4. Gary Z

    Note the other excellent examples of variations, folks. Cucumber-cuke, etc. To the non-musician, I guarantee they are reading it ‘mick’ and not with a long ‘i’ pronunciation. I will always use the mike spelling.

    Reply
  5. Eric

    This debate must be pre-Twitter. 140-mic=137.

    Reply
  6. Virginia

    I’m a mike.

    Reply
  7. Jeff

    Indeed it should be spelled “mic” and pronounced like Mike. There should be no argument. I’ve worked in professional audio for 20+ years and I’ve never seen anyone write “Mike” when labeling a mixing console or in any professional industry publication.

    Shortening Bicycle to Bike and Nuclear to Nuke makes sense because neither of the shortened forms of those words are one of the most popular names in the English language. Mike is often the name of a band member, stage manager, FOH engineer, or monitor engineer. See how that might be confusing?

    Reply
  8. Wayne

    If Mike is short for Michael, why isn’t it spelled Mich? That makes as much sense as writing “mic” for “microphone.”

    Reply
  9. Pamela

    I’ve always used “open mike” well before the advent of social media (where let’s face it, the English language gets butchered all the time). I saw a meme today making fun of a sign that had written “open mike” and decided to settle this once & for all, leading me here. I’m happy to see my choice validated, as “open mic” always irritated me (obviously I know why people may choose that but it just reads as “mick” to me).

    Reply

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