Microwave display

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Jim Unger recently got a new microwave oven made by Haier in China.  He soon noticed that, when the cooking is done, it displays the following notice:  GOOD.  Since that seemed a bit odd, Jim thought about it for awhile, but then realized that it must be a translation of Mandarin hǎole 好了 (lit., "has become good"), which can mean lots of things ("well; okay; all right; ready", and so forth), but in this case indicates "done".

Curious to learn what other microwave ovens say when they are done cooking, I asked a number of friends what appears on the display of theirs when it is finished.  Here are some of the replies I received:

1. It says 0:00 and goes ping.

2. Likewise. Except mine goes beep beep.

3. When I punch in 1 minute, it reads: 1:00, :59, etc. down to :01, then it rings three times and the window reads "END".

4. Mine doesn't say a thing.

5. Mine at home just beeps and goes blank.

6. Mine at home says "end"

7. Ready

8. Well, there’s this loud beep beep beep, then END blinks on the display screen.  It's scary to me.  I don’t use it for fear of it rearranging my body’s cellular membranes.  My head has trouble enough trying to function as it is.

If different from the above indications, I'd be interested to know what your microwave says when it is finished.

Incidentally, I remember seeing and hearing about Chinese-made appliances that say "open" (kāi 开) and "close" (guān 关) for "on" and "off" (the Chinese word for "[power] switch" is kāiguān 开关 [lit., "open-close"]).

[Thanks to Heidi Krohne, Paula Roberts, Gordon Old, Duncan Smith, Frank Chance, Lacey Mair, Gene Hill, and Diane Moderski]


  1. Brad K said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 1:00 pm

    Mine just beeps three times and displays 0:00. When you open the door, though, "ENJOY YOUR MEAL" scrolls across the display.

  2. Stephan Stiller said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

    Mine (manufactured by Emerson Radio Corp.) reverts to a display of the 12-hour based time of day and makes 5 annoyingly loud beeps. I can't adjust the volume.

  3. cM said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 2:06 pm

    Mine is from 1988 – it has no display…

    And I'm keeping it because it doesn't have this annoying turntable, making it possible to use the complete width of the – rectangular – internal volume, and not only its depth. Yes, this means I have to stir things occasionally, but that's a small price to pay.

  4. Quru said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 2:08 pm

    Mine has no display but a dial which moves down to 0. Once it is at 0, the microwave beeps.

  5. Remy said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 2:22 pm

    Brad, mine also says "ENJOY YOUR MEAL." We've had it for around 13 years.

  6. Zeppelin said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 2:28 pm

    Mine is too old to have a display, so it just gives a little ring.

    It also doesn't tell you the wattage of the different settings. Instead the knob can be turned from 1 to 6, and above is a helpful table which says:

    1 Warmhalten (keep warm)
    2 Auftauen (thaw/defrost)
    3 Fortgaren (continue to cook)
    4 Erwärmen (warm up)
    5 Erhitzen/Garen (heat up/cook)
    6 Grillen (…grill)

    which is not terribly helpful.

  7. delagar said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 2:30 pm

    Mine beeps (about 12 times? It seems to go on forever) and has a scrolling, repeated, all-caps END…END…END…END…

    It also lectures me, giving me constant orders while I'm prepping food, scrolling orders like CLOSE DOOR…CLOSE DOOR…CLOSE DOOR… and ENTER COOK TIME…ENTER COOK TIME…ENTER COOK TIME…

    It's a very bossy machine, is all I'm saying.

  8. Andrew said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 3:11 pm

    Mine says FOOD IS DONE.

    And cM, you know that the turntable on modern models is removable, and the drive spindle is recessed into the floor? If you want to take the turntable out and put in a glass baking pan or whatever, it takes about 10 seconds.

  9. Keith Ivey said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 3:13 pm

    Zeppelin, your microwave thinks it can grill?

  10. Ø said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

    Ours says END, but the letters are missing so many bits that you can't read them unless you know what you're looking for. At spring forward and fall back time I reset the microwave's clock with all the others, but there is a question as to why I bother.

  11. saucyturtles said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

    Ours (2010 GE) beeps four times and scrolls FOOD IS READY across the display. I am then compelled to chant those four syllables robotically along with the four beeps. My family loves that.

  12. Rubrick said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 5:42 pm

    Mine doesn't actually say anything — but I know what it's thinking.

  13. Mara K said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 6:32 pm

    Mine beeps and says FOOD IS READY. Sometimes I watch it and count down: 3, 2, 1, FOOD.

  14. ultraviolet said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 6:48 pm

    Mine beeps and says "YOUR FOOD IS READY", which I find endlessly annoying as it is quite often not true, since I tend to microwave my food in stage: microwave, stir, microwave again, etc.

  15. Keith Ivey said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 7:39 pm

    Ultraviolet, reduce your blood pressure by realizing it's short for "Your food is ready for you to stir it again."

  16. Gene Callahan said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

    Mine will continue beeping, loudly, literally forever (or the powergrid shuts down) until you come get your food. Apparently, it is very annoyed by the idea that its efforts might have been wasted.

  17. Stephen Hart said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 8:41 pm


    Cue Blade Runner

  18. Robert Morris said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 10:04 pm

    Mine says "FOOD IS DONE," which I find particularly amusing when I'm using it to warm something like water or stearic acid for soapmaking.

    And @cM: in addition to what @Andrew said, any microwave with a turntable should also give you the option to turn it off even if you want to leave the turntable itself in. That works for me pretty much any time I'm dealing with a large rectangular dish.

  19. Zeppelin said,

    February 15, 2014 @ 11:12 pm

    @Keith Ivey

    It can, sort of! It has a heating coil at the top, like a toaster oven.

    And while we're on appliance chat, I'd never seen a toaster oven before I visited Canada (so maybe that is why German microwaves can have a grill function?). Conversely, I've talked to Americans who thought an electric kettle was some kind of fancy gizmo and had never used one, whereas here in Germany it's one of the most basic kitchen appliances and as far as I can tell everybody has one.

  20. Kahomono said,

    February 16, 2014 @ 5:14 am

    Mine reverts to its "off" state, which is showing the time of day.

  21. Victor Mair said,

    February 16, 2014 @ 8:01 am

    I am visiting with a friend who has a fancy, large, new Whirlpool microwave oven with lots of functions. When its cooking cycle is over, the display reads "End" and it beeps loudly five times. I waited for quite a while, but it never reverted to the clock function which shows the time of day (it only did that when I opened the door).

    So far, it seems that only Jim Unger's Haier reads "GOOD".

  22. Mr Punch said,

    February 16, 2014 @ 1:08 pm

    Electric kettles are to Europe as electric rice cookers are to Asia.

  23. Ittay said,

    February 16, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

    My microwave says "End". Because it has a four-digits display it's very expected. Spelling "End" requires no additions to the 7-segments LED digits.

  24. julie lee said,

    February 16, 2014 @ 2:26 pm

    In my kitchen there is a gas range, an oven, toaster, toaster-oven, microwave, and electronic rice-cooker (lots of settings). I'm always trying to outwit them so they don't under-cook or over-cook/burn the food. A battle of wills. My favorite is the toaster-oven. Amazing appliance. Uses less energy and much easier to clean than the regular oven. Mine is about 11 inches tall and 18 inches wide, for less than $150. I've baked cake and cookies in it, grilled steaks, and even roasted a whole chicken in it. I've cooked a dinner for 8 just with the toaster-oven. You can get a Cuisinart toaster-oven for $70 (sale price) now at Amazon's.

  25. Rich Rostrom said,

    February 16, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

    Frigidaire, made in China in 2011.

    Says "Good".

  26. Victor Mair said,

    February 16, 2014 @ 3:03 pm

    @Rich Rostrom

    Ah, finally another "Good", and also made in China!

  27. Victor Mair said,

    February 16, 2014 @ 3:06 pm

    So far we've only had reports of English and German announcements. How about other languages?

  28. LC said,

    February 16, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

    The one we use at home is a talking one for the visually impaired. It says "COMPLETE" aloud at the end, and the display goes blank, or it says "LEAVE TO STAND" if you've used a preset programme.

  29. Alan Palmer said,

    February 17, 2014 @ 5:15 am

    Mine says"END" and gives three beeps. If the door isn't opened within 30 seconds it gives another three beeps, then another after another 30 seconds and so on … That's particularly annoying as instructions often tell you to leave the food to stand for a minute or more after cooking.

    Once the door has been opened it goes back to displaying the time of day.

  30. Colin Fine said,

    February 17, 2014 @ 9:42 am

    I remember a discussion somewhere about what the French is for "on" and "off".I think the best you can do is "marche" and "arret" ('go' and 'stop'. Maybe there should be a circumflex on 'arret'?)

  31. Lane said,

    February 17, 2014 @ 12:59 pm

    There's a quasi-linguistics thesis to write about the euroglyphics on devices made in the EU for EU consumers. They use as little language as possible, but require you to learn weirdo symbols for so many functions. My AEG (German company) microwave in Berlin is forced to use Start, Stop and Quick, but otherwise relies on symbols. My oven has no words at all, nor does the stovetop.

  32. Layra said,

    February 17, 2014 @ 7:59 pm

    I'm another owner of a Frigidaire that displays GOOD (and screeches as if being stabbed in the face) when finished. I thought that was odd when I first saw it, but my toaster is sufficiently quirkier (in the finicky, not working well sense) that I didn't think about it for long.

  33. DC Cardwell said,

    March 11, 2014 @ 11:11 pm

    I'm from the UK but lived in Canada for many years, and to me, this use of "GOOD" actually seems to fit with a certain modern North American usage of the word. I think of the phrase, "we're good!" that was often used by Canadians to indicate that everything was OK in a wide range of contexts, e.g. "all is well", or "I'm fine, thanks, I've got everything I need" or even, "the wieners are cooked, pig out!"

    Another similar example is, "we're good to go!"

    To my mind this is also related the the North American habit, often disdained by UK critics, of replying "I'm good!" (instead of "I'm well!") to the question, "How are you?"

    My point is that I could easily imagine an American or Canadian, particularly a younger one, choosing the word, "GOOD" to indicate that the cooking process was complete. So it may not necessarily be anything to do with a Chinese language.

    As for our Panasonic microwave, it says, "COOL" when it's done. It's actually to indicate that the fan is still spinning for a while after cooking to COOL the interior and help ensure that the user isn't at risk from steam or very hot food in the dish. But I like to think that it's just a hip appliance that's saying "cool!" to indicate that everything's "good to go".

  34. Johan said,

    September 21, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

    My 'mikro' (microwave in Swedish, short for 'mikrovågsugn' [mircowave oven]) has an interesting sound for when it's done. (IF you include my brother in the concept of the "microwave.")

    Just like many other microwave ovens, it says "Beep, beep, beep," when done. This is where my brother takes cue and continues whistling that theme from Star Wars. You know, the one that starts with three same-pitch, equal length, articulated tones**. He continues this for some bars of music (longer or shorter, depending on mode [i.e. my brother's mode, not the setting of the mircrowave…]).

    The, if I don't open the door to the microwave within half a minute it again says "beep, beep, beep," and my brother (sometimes) again takes the cue and whistles… This can continue for at least 5 iterations more, half a minute between each.

    I know exactly how to interpret this extralingual "message" by my brother (his whistling). It is clearly aimed at me, and it's screaming: "Open the @#$% microwave oven door at once, so I don't have to listen to the beeps in half a minute again!"

    **If I'd make a stab at the rhythm, it would be something like:
    "Dam, Dam, Dam, dam, Da-dam, dam, Da-dam."

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