Inventor of the GIF image format tells us how ‘GIF’ is properly pronounced


During the 17th annual Webby Awards, Steve Wilhite received the Lifetime Achievement award. He deserves it too, since he’s the guy that brought us the Graphics Interchange Format. Or the GIF, as everyone calls it today. GIFs have a very special place on the internet — you can’t go through many comment sections without seeing at least one of them, and Google even added the ability to search for them. I think we can all agree that GIFs are awesome.

But one thing it seems people can never agree on is its pronounciation. Is it Jif? Or the way it’s spelled, Gif? Steve made sure to set everything straight when he accepted his award:

Personally, I’ve always pronounced it that way. But I know that pronounce it the other way. How do you pronounce GIF? Let us know in the comments!

[via The Verge]

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  1. davidroper

    DOS 5.1 reminds me of WIN 7. A nice working OS with only a few bugs that don’t bother me. PK, Phil Katz, was one rich guy then. If you didn’t PKZIP, you were not a geek at all.

  2. davidroper


    AT, I’m sorry I am sorry that I drew you into my “illness”. I knew about the extensions and you are 100% correct in everything you wrote. Thanks on behald of others who may not have known that fundamental tidbit.

    Can something be both fundamental and a tidbit at the same time? Anyway…

    I was there in 1986 with the extensions and DOS 1.0 (it was up to 2.0 when I started). I think I was at 3.0 and 3.11 when I worked with my first AT, AT.

    I apologize to you. I just like to shoot off my mouth and my family even calls me “One Step” because I always go one step past where I should go verbally. See, I did it again in the previous pararaph with “AT”. Darn.

    Don’t hate me. I’ll try to temper myself.

  3. AT

    [@davidroper] During the early days of the PC, the standard file convention used a 3 character extension. That’s why JPEG became JPG. Same with TIF (originally TIFF), MPG (MPEG)….

    Everything had to be shortened. Shortened extensions also became a bit irregular as JPE (JPEG) and MPE (MPEG) files were used.

  4. Seamus McSeamus


    What bugs me more than the possible mispronunciation of .GIF or .JPG is the total misuse (yes, even abuse) of the word “there”. It is meant to convey a very narrow information stream, yet some people today expect it to do the work of “their” and “they’re” as well. It’s a crime, I tells ‘ya, a crime!

  5. davidroper

    The man “what invented it” gets to decide its name. Not us mere mortals. Your argument is not valid due TO MY DADDY always saying to me that if a man spells his name SMYTH then he, and only he, alone can decide whether it’s pronounced Sm i TH or Sm eye Th.

    Argument over. It’s really pronounced “Peanut Butter.”

  6. RealBull

    It is hard to determine the correct pronunciation. “gi” in the English language is actually pronounced as “ji”, for example, giraffe and giant. But GIF is an acronym, the “gi” pronunciation may as well be correct. Anyway go to Merriam-Webster Dictionary and GIF is first pronounced with the “gi” and next with the “ji”. Click on the pronunciation demo and you get the “gi” pronunciation.

    Cambridge Dictionary only pronounces it as “gi”

    Oxford Dictionary pronounces it as “gi”

    I have always and will continue to say “GIF” and NOT “JIF”.

  7. Mukhi

    well, no matter what the inventor says, the local pronunciation is all that matters. british says, “anti-” as “an-tee”, american says, as “an-tie”, both are acceptable. in US, i have known “GIF” for the 1st time, and as “GIF”, not as “JIF”; therefore, don’t expect me to pronounce the other way!
    mexicans pronounce jesus as “he-soos”, for them, it’s right.

  8. davidroper

    Man to a friend “Last year I went to Mexico”
    Friend say” It’s not pronounced that way, it’s pronounced Meh-hee-coh”
    Friend says “How did you get there?”
    Man says “Okay, I drove in a Taa-hee cab”

    Hard to write, easy to tell.

  9. etim

    So…does that mean Germanic/Scandinavian speakers pronounce it YIF?

    I had a non-English speaking German friend who owned a Yeep.
    I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about until I saw her drive by in her Jeep Wrangler.