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How Do You Pronounce GIF? The Creator Says We’re All Wrong Because It’s Pronounced ‘JIF’

Computer GIF
John Moore, Getty Images

There are hundreds and thousands of formats in today’s computer world, but the GIF format stands alone and was even named the “word of the year” in 2012. GIF stands for ‘Graphic Interchange Format’…whatever the heck that means, but it has changed computer animation as we know it. It has always been pronounced with a hard “g”, like gift and apparently, that is absolutely WRONG…who knew? The GIF was created in 1987 by Steve Wilhite while working for a company that was known as CompuServ. The GIF quickly grew in popularity and over the last 10 years or so has ruled the computer world.

Wilhite, who retired in 2001 recently expressed his annoyance at the ongoing debate about how the term is pronounced. Wilhite syas, “The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations…they are wrong. It is a soft ‘G’, pronounced ‘jif’. End of story.”

Wow, is my face red because all this time I have using a hard ‘G’ like gift and boy, do I feel like a tool…who’s with me? By the way, regardless of how GIF is pronounced, without it, we might never have been introduced to the Meme…pronounced ‘meem’. How long before someone straightens us out on THAT pronunciation? I bet it’s really pronounced ‘maymay’. What do you think?

[New York Times]

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