mi·​cro·​phone | \ ˈmī-krə-ˌfōn How to pronounce microphone (audio) \

Definition of microphone

: 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)

Other Words from microphone

microphonic \ ˌmī-​krə-​ˈfä-​nik How to pronounce microphone (audio) \ adjective

Examples of microphone in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web These capabilities build on existing components, like the barometer, which can now detect cabin pressure changes, the GPS for additional input for speed changes, and the microphone, which can recognize loud noises typified by severe car crashes. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 21 Sep. 2022 The Watch combines the data from this new accelerometer with information from a three-axis gyroscope, the microphone, a barometer, and GPS data. Sebastian Blanco, Car and Driver, 10 Sep. 2022 The technology is a microphone directed at the sky, connected to a computer that continuously records the sound stream and is aided by sound recognition software. Tom Langen, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Sep. 2022 In the video, Kelly grabs on to a zip line with just one hand, microphone in the other, and rides across the stadium crowd. Starr Bowenbank, Billboard, 16 Aug. 2022 Remington sent a transcript of remarks Gableman made in the courtroom to another attorney that were caught on a live microphone to the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation, which could hand down discipline based on the comments. Molly Beck, Journal Sentinel, 2 Aug. 2022 Features 70ms latency mode. Noise-canceling microphone. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 18 July 2022 Meghan, 41, and Prince Harry, 37, are used to surprise guests — on a special holiday podcast released in 2020, the couple's son, Archie Harrison, took a turn on the microphone. Stephanie Petit, Peoplemag, 23 Aug. 2022 The mayor laughed briefly and then immediately left the podium to listen closely to another question from someone else about outdoor dining lawsuits in the Big Apple before returning to the microphone. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 2 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'microphone.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of microphone

1878, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for microphone

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,

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The first known use of microphone was in 1878

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Last Updated

25 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Microphone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microphone. Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for microphone


mi·​cro·​phone | \ ˈmī-krə-ˌfōn How to pronounce microphone (audio) \

Kids Definition of microphone

: an instrument in which sound is changed into an electrical signal for transmitting or recording (as in radio or television)


mi·​cro·​phone | \ ˈmī-krə-ˌfōn How to pronounce microphone (audio) \

Medical Definition of microphone

: 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)

More from Merriam-Webster on microphone

Nglish: Translation of microphone for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about microphone


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