GIF or JIF — An Online War

It’s been a war that’s lasted for 25 years at least. How to pronounce the file format GIF.

What seems like a trivial no-brainer to most folks becomes more than that to others.

It all seems to have started with a guy at CompuServe creating a graphics format that was lightweight. For whatever reason, this programmer decided to pronounce GIF with a J sound (like the peanut butter) rather than a hard G sound (like Gift).

And an Internet war started that day…

This image is so appropriate. It’s exactly how some folks see it. This war has had pot shots taken at it from all sides.

The guy who created it, Steve Wilhite, recently accepted a Lifetime Webby award for his contribution to the Internet. In his acceptance speech–which the Webby’s limit to five words–he states, “It’s pronounced ‘JIF’ not ‘GIF'”. Which consequently sent the Internet on yet another tearing rage war over pronunciation.


Chris Hardwick on @midnight
Chris Hardwick on @midnight

To be fair, I can see why people say JIF. The creator says JIF therefore it’s pronounced JIF.

Unfortunately, the creator released this into the public domain and it’s now not his own creation. It’s the public’s creation.

Graphics. Interchange. Format.

It’s yet another in a long line of mispronunciations in the tech world. LaTeX, OSX, Linux, QNX, etc.

Techies never seem to agree on anything.

And I guess that’s the way it will always be.


I prefer the GIF pronunciation because it’s simpler and the G stands for Graphics which is not pronounced with a J.

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