Long Overdue: The Microwave Needs a Nickname

published Nov 20, 2014
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(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

Ever the romantic gift-giver, I recall with utter clarity the Christmas my father gave my mother a microwave oven. The year was 1984. Its inaugural run was a bowl of water (how’s that for cautious?) How is it that thirty years later we are still sounding out all three laborious syllables: MI-CRO-WAVE? Why doesn’t this ubiquitous appliance have a shorter, widely accepted nickname? It’s time to remedy this oversight!

A survey of Apartment Therapy editors revealed that only one had adopted a sobriquet for the microwave, calling it “the mike”. I reject this moniker on two counts: first, ‘mic’ was long ago popularized as an abbreviation for microphone and while, in practical usage, these homophones would likely not be confused (‘Oh! Turn up the microphone? Sorry, I turned up the microwave instead!”), let’s let musicians and audiophiles have ‘mic’ all to themselves. Secondly, as someone who has a name (Carrie) that is also a verb (carry), I vote to just leave all the Mikes of the world out of this (stand with me Skip and Jimmy and Sue!).

My dictionary tells me that “microwave oven” has been around since 1961 and that the shorter “microwave” was commonly adopted in 1976. So, one could argue, that microwave is already a nickname for microwave oven. My dictionary also says that the verb “to nuke” something in the microwave was adopted in 1987. Anecdotally, I can back that up as my dad has been using that phrase for about as long. But does anyone call the appliance “the nuker”? (speak up in the comments).

AT editors (reluctantly) offered up these suggested nicknames:

  • the ‘crowave
  • the wave
  • the micro

Let’s try them out:

“Hey there, could you throw these peas in the micro?”

“How long does the popcorn take in the wave?”

“The ‘crowave is beeping.”

No, none of those felt good.

Dear reader, do you share my discontent with the long-winded, polysyllabic “microwave”? Can you offer any viable nicknames? Make your case, my ears are wide open.