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)

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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 Somewhere between finding a lightweight mouse that's receptive to your movements, a microphone with clear sound quality, and a chair that will keep you comfortable through long sessions, your shopping cart total really starts to tally up. Sarah Toscano, EW.com, 29 June 2021 There is also a jack input for a third microphone, which can be purchased from Fifine. Chris Hachey, BGR, 28 June 2021 Think of it, using the microphone, accelerometer and so on to add to the data collected by Apple Watch and iPhone could be a powerful combination. David Phelan, Forbes, 16 June 2021 Elfman had a computer, one handheld microphone, a single electric guitar and a pair of faulty headphones — not the best equipment for putting together a double album. Mark Kennedy, Star Tribune, 10 June 2021 There was this microphone — a binaural headset — that records sound in a 360 way, kind of how a human would experience it. Samuel Hyland, Rolling Stone, 29 Apr. 2021 Another major benefit to these headphones is the four-way microphone, which assists in much better sound isolation during phone calls and video conferencing. Michael Nuñez, CNN Underscored, 24 Mar. 2021 This mini, lightweight microphone connects to almost any device and records up to six hours with high-quality sound. Popular Science, 4 Mar. 2021 His microphone is ruined, and that’s Jake’s second strike from production. Charlotte Walsh, Vulture, 10 July 2021

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.

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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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Time Traveler for microphone

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The first known use of microphone was in 1878

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Last Updated

27 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Microphone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microphone. Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

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More Definitions for microphone



English Language Learners Definition of microphone

: a device into which people speak or sing in order to record their voices or to make them sound louder


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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