microphone

noun

mi·​cro·​phone ˈmī-krə-ˌfōn How to pronounce microphone (audio)
: an instrument whereby sound waves are caused to generate or modulate an electric current usually for the purpose of transmitting or recording sound (such as speech or music)
microphonic adjective

Examples of microphone in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Man was one of the first acts to make this its norm — where the group literally passes the microphone to local community members for a few minutes at the start of every set — Lynn noticed an increase in interest following the boygenius tour in particular. Lyndsey Havens, Billboard, 1 Apr. 2024 In mid-January, U.S. Attorney E. Martin Estrada stood in front of a bouquet of microphones with a phalanx of prosecutors behind him. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 29 Mar. 2024 Headphone and microphone jacks are separate; the reset button is appropriately smaller than the power button; and pinholes illuminate with separate power and hard drive activity LEDs. PCMAG, 27 Mar. 2024 The keyboard is designed for productivity and includes several time-saving custom keys for accessing emojis, microphone mute and screen grabs. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 Lined up one after the other, in front of a single microphone, the crowd cheered each speaker on. Wesley Parnell, Rolling Stone, 22 Mar. 2024 And thousands of attendees were dancing and laughing — waving camcorders and microphones, drinks and cigarettes. Janay Kingsberry, Washington Post, 21 Mar. 2024 Before taking the helm at the troubled footwear and apparel maker last summer, Darrell spent more than a decade atop Logitech, whose tech accessory products like keyboards, headphones, and microphones were no longer needed as tablets became popularized. Phil Wahba, Fortune, 19 Mar. 2024 The Academy Awards presented another full circle moment for Downey when Oppenheimer swept Best Picture - with a familiar face at the microphone. Andrea Mandell, Peoplemag, 17 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'microphone.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

micro- + Greek -phōnos "having a sound (of the kind or number specified)," derivative of phōnḗ "sound made by something living, voice, speech, utterance" — more at phono-

Note: The first use of a compound with these Greek elements in English or any other language appears to have been in an essay by the English-born Church of Ireland cleric Narcissus Marsh (1638-1713): "As Microscopes or Magnifying Glasses, help the Eye to see near Objects, that by reason of their smallness were Invisible before; which Objects they Magnify to a strange greatness: so Microphones or Microacousticks, that is, Magnifying Ear Instruments may be contriv'd after that manner, that they shall render the most minute Sound in nature distinctly Audible, by Magnifying it to an unconceivable loudness" ("An introductory Essay to the Doctrine of Sounds, containing some proposals for the improvement of Acousticks," Philosophical Transactions [of the Royal Society], vol. 14, no. 156, February 20, 1684, p. 482). Marsh clearly based the coinage on microscope (with earlier telescope), but as a piece of word formation it is not entirely successful, given that the Greek elements, if interpreted literally, would mean "having a small sound/voice," not hearing or amplifying a sound. (A better alternative might have been megaphone entry 1, coined centuries later.) Marsh's microphone was a more or less theoretical device, and the word, which occurs sporadically thereafter, might have passed into oblivion. It was taken up again, however, by the British inventor Charles Wheatstone (1802-75), who described a purely acoustic device for transmitting sound as a microphone ("Experiments on Audition," The Quarterly Journal of Science, Literature and Art, July to December, 1827, p. 69). Following Wheatstone, the British-American inventor David Edward Hughes (1831-1900) applied microphone to an electric transmitter using carbon to magnify sound ("On the Action of Sonorous Vibrations in varying the Force of an Electric Current," Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, vol. 27 [1878], p. 365), a use perhaps impelled by telephone,

First Known Use

1878, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of microphone was in 1878

Dictionary Entries Near microphone

Cite this Entry

“Microphone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microphone. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

microphone

noun
mi·​cro·​phone ˈmī-krə-ˌfōn How to pronounce microphone (audio)
: an instrument in which sound energy is changed into electrical energy usually for the purpose of transmitting or recording sound (as speech or music)

Medical Definition

microphone

noun
mi·​cro·​phone ˈmī-krə-ˌfōn How to pronounce microphone (audio)
: an instrument whereby sound waves are caused to generate or modulate an electric current usually for the purpose of transmitting or recording sound (as speech or music)

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