A microwave is a small oven that cooks or heats food very quickly. Instead of the electric or gas heat that a regular oven uses, a microwave heats with electromagnetic radiation.

While the heat of a regular oven (or a small toaster oven) surrounds your food and cooks it from the outside, with the heat working its way in, a microwave's radiation cooks most food from the inside out. Its radiation, or waves, penetrate the food and heat up any moisture inside it. These waves are themselves called microwaves because they're short (and micro- means "small"), similar to radio waves.

Definitions of microwave
  1. noun
    kitchen appliance that cooks food by passing an electromagnetic wave through it; heat results from the absorption of energy by the water molecules in the food
    synonyms: microwave oven
    see moresee less
    type of:
    kitchen appliance
    a home appliance used in preparing food
  2. noun
    a short electromagnetic wave (longer than infrared but shorter than radio waves); used for radar and microwave ovens and for transmitting telephone, facsimile, video and data
    see moresee less
    type of:
    electromagnetic radiation, electromagnetic wave, nonparticulate radiation
    radiation consisting of waves of energy associated with electric and magnetic fields resulting from the acceleration of an electric charge
  3. verb
    cook or heat in a microwave oven
    “You can microwave the leftovers”
    synonyms: micro-cook, nuke, zap
    see moresee less
    type of:
    transform and make suitable for consumption by heating
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week