The return of mic

Faithful readers of this blog will recall a post last fall that discussed a style exercise in my editing course. Students work in small groups to make a few style rulings that we then use for the rest of the semester.

The decision that drew several comments was about the short form for “microphone.” Should it be “mic” or “mike”? The students last fall unanimously picked “mic.” Some were unaware that “mike” was even an option.

I decided to try this one again, and once again, all of the students in two sections of the course went with “mic.” The groups were more divided on “freshman” vs. “first-year student,” though they leaned toward the latter. “Athletic director” vs. “athletics director” drew an even split.

The reasons they gave for “mic” were similar to those offered by students before. It’s what you see on signs for “open mic night.” There’s no “k” in microphone. “Mic” is more contemporary.

Indeed, if these students are the ones who will soon settle style questions in newsrooms, the future seems to be on the side of “mic.”



  1. I’ve always preferred “mic,” but how does that translate when you’re trying to say someone was “miked”? I use “mic’d” in text conversation but I think that’s too colloquial for serious use.

  2. I’m surprised there was an even split between ‘athletic director’ and ‘athletics director’. The first seems to me much more ambiguous – after all, I could be an athletic director of music, and have nothing to do with directing athletics.

  3. Can (should) you be more explicit than “Image from Creative Commons”? Does CC have a repository of images? Or did the image author use a no-attribution CC license? As far as I can tell, CC licenses generally require attribution (“credit the way you request”), but sites like flickr don’t provide a place to make the attribution request (though some do it in their profile).

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