Ed Driscoll

Hint: It's Not Peanut Butter

Gizmodo asks the important question of the day: “How the Hell Do You Pronounce GIF Anyway?”

Choosy programmers choose “gif” or “jif”?

The pronunciation of “GIF” is specified in the GIF specification to be “jif”, as in “jiffy”, rather then “gif”, which most people seem to prefer. This does seem strange because the “G” is from the word “Graphics” and not “Jraphics”.

So there you have it—the peanut butter pronunciation is technically the correct one to take. But don’t worry if you decide to go against what the creators of the GIF established anyway—the Oxford English Dictionary has your back because it declares both both the hard g and soft g pronunciations correct.

Nuh-uh. Sorry, I’m sticking with my old school spiral bound/slipcase 1996 first edition version of WiredStyle: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Language, From the Editors of Wired, Edited by Constance Hale, which I purchased at the late lamented Computer Literacy Bookstore on North First Street in San Jose, when the dot.com bubble was just being inflated.

Page 133 says:


graphic interchange format

Use the acronym and pronounce it "giff" ("jif" is for the peanut butter). GIF is CompuServe's file compression format for images. It has acquired a new life as a synonym for online images or photographs that are compressed as GIFs. It also appears sometimes as .gif in reference to the standard lowercase format of filenames: fetish.gif. Lawyeritis is causing GIF to be rapidly replaced by PNG and JPEG.

And that was the glory days before Wired magazine was purchased by Condé Nast and then completely imploded and beclowned itself by placing a hyphen into the word ’email.

Don’t even get me started on that.

Update: The audio pronunciation guide at Merriam-Webster.com also puts a hard-g on the word.