How do you pronounce GIF? Does it matter?

When Oxford Dictionaries named the acronym GIF (graphics interchange format) as their US word of the year (in its verb use), debates resurfaced over its correct pronunciation. The short answer is that both /gɪf/ and /dʒɪf/ are fine – you can say GIF with the hard g of gift or the soft g of gin. Or you can say the letters: “gee eye eff”.

Some people insist on soft-g GIF, as in “jif”. They say it’s “up to the creators”, and “jif” is what the format’s inventors indicated. But this presumes a non-existent authority: the creators don’t get to lay down a planet-wide law, nor does anyone on their behalf. Pronunciation develops through general agreement – it’s up to everyone who uses the term – and most people seem to prefer hard-g GIF.

Philosoraptor meme - Is it 'gif' or 'gif'Gi- is inherently ambiguous, pronunciation-wise. We have hard-g gift, gills, giddy, give and giggles, soft-g gin, giblets, Gilly, giant and gist.* (There’s a Scandinavian flavour to the hard-g set.) So it’s not surprising the pronunciation of a new gi- term would split this way. But there aren’t many gif- words apart from gift, so it’s not surprising either that hard-g GIF predominates. The g‘s origin in graphics is another factor in its favour.

But there’s no question both are acceptable: Oxford Dictionaries sanction both, as do Merriam-Webster and the American Heritage Dictionary, each of them based on extensive data of what people say. There is more than one right way – there often is – and declaring otherwise doesn’t make it otherwise.

Soft-g GIF may gradually fade, or it may retain minor currency. A continued split would not be a problem. Millions of people pronounce schedule with a sh- sound; other millions go with sk-. Communication is roomy enough to contain such discrepancies, and if confusion arises people are smart and imaginative enough to figure it out. Though I can’t speak for Philosoraptor.

Out of curiosity, how do you pronounce GIF? Feel free to vote in this poll or to add your thoughts below.


* In phonetics, /g/ is a voiced velar stop and /dʒ/ is a voiced palato-alveolar affricate.

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93 Responses to How do you pronounce GIF? Does it matter?

  1. Usually I pronounce it with /x/, since I’m Dutch. I guess this indicates it’s become quite a native word for me. Incidentally, I can also append a diminutive suffix: ‘gifje’. In English, I would go with /g/.

  2. I have always used the hard version, as logically “graphics” from which it is derived, uses the same.

    Of course the “soft” version brings us into the territory of Jif lemon juice and Jif cleaners, the latter having to change its name to Cif to avoid confusion!

  3. wisewebwoman says:

    For decades now I’ve been walking around saying “giblets” with a hard g.

    Oh the mortification, Stan!


  4. Stan says:

    Oscar: I guess it has gone native for you. Irish offers the diminutive suffix ín (een in Hiberno-English), but I haven’t had reason to say gifín yet. I will, though.

    Grandad: Jif turning into Cif took some getting used to, but I’m almost there. If the GIF’s inventors had taken the r from graphics as well and called it a GRIF, there’d be no debate!

    WWW: I had to look it up to make sure, but I’d be surprised if there weren’t a few more people saying giblets with a hard g. You’ve probably helped spread it as a variant.

    • I’ll add myself to the hard “giblet” crowd. It’s to be expected, with a word one nowadays encounters only in books.

      More generally, it’s often seemed to me that when faced with a new word beginning with “gi-”, there are some people who tend to assume /g/ and others who tend to assume /dʒ/. I’m with the former.

    • Paul Trembath says:

      GIF was invented when Windows only supported 8.3 filenames (pre Windows 95) so there would have been a practical pressure to stick with a TLA – compare .htm, .html. I have no idea if this was a conscious consideration.

  5. I’m surprised that so many people say /dʒɪf/. I’ve never actually heard it before.

  6. Shaun Downey says:

    I would say Gee Eye Eff.I seem to be in a inority

  7. alanpalmer says:

    The old line “beware of geeks bearing gifs” wouldn’t work with a soft g.

  8. Trey Jones says:

    /dʒɪf/ is peanut butter, not a graphics format!

  9. Stan says:

    Jonathon: I’ve heard it a few times, usually from someone into computer science, but I thought its count would be lower in the poll. Maybe its speakers are more invested in the pronunciation and vote disproportionately more, or something.

    Shaun: It’s a clear minority all right. You might slip into /gɪf/ once you start verbing it!

    Alan: True, though it opens the floor to more oblique variants: Beware of cheeks wearing Jif.

    Trey: Choosy Moms Choose it, I’m told.

  10. kcecelia says:

    So interesting. I went from the English Literature department at UC Berkeley to the AI Lab at the Stanford Research Institute. The differences in the jargon necessary to be au courant in each place were endlessly entertaining. Having an engineer dad who was also an American Indian and the first generation of his family not to speak the Lushootseed-plus-English of his dad’s generation, or the Anishinaabemowin-plus-English of his mom’s generation, and an English teacher and librarian mom of French Canadian, German, and Irish descent, made me an interpreter between two cultures from childhood, so I find this subject natively interesting in more ways than one. (Pun intended.) I worked for a high-tech startup when GIFs came on the scene, and I have never heard anyone use jif or the acronym pronounced letter by letter; it was always GIF with a hard G. Two things delight me: that this issue exists; that we care about it. Thank you, Stan; your articles always make me smile. *Happy Sigh*

  11. Jo says:

    I say “jif,” but mostly because it disconcerts people. I also say “Jillian” for “Gillian” and “jibbet” for “gibbet,” which seem also to be locuses of variation. But then, I also read dictionaries looking for variants which upset peevers, hence “cactuses,” “syllabuses,” and so forth.

  12. Stan says:

    Katherine: What a fascinating perspective to bring to the subject. Thanks for sharing it, and for the kind words. Quite a few people (here, on Twitter, and offline) have told me they’ve never heard the “jif” form, which strengthens my sense that the poll is slightly skewed. Not that it matters.

    Adrian: I think I’ve heard giblets more than I’ve read it, but only because it was used in my house when I was growing up.

    Jan: I’m out of my element here.

    Jo: A little disconcertedness can work wonders for people.

  13. Ritu KT says:

    I had never paid so much attention but I think I always pronounced it as Gee-eye-eff. Now I’m intrigued about pronounciation backgrounds of other acronyms.
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  14. aka gringita says:

    JIF JIF JIF JIF. But not the peanut butter. Unless it’s “Simply JIF” which is peanuty-delicious.

    I also throw people off with how I pronounce “cache” ;)

  15. I’ve never even heard of that acronym! But I automatically read it with a soft g. Interestingly, until I read this post, I would have thought that the way I pronounced the g, would have been a hard g.

  16. Combat Babe says:

    I like .gif as in “gift” because we already have .jpg which I hear a lot of people say “j-peg”. They are different, so I think there should be more differentiation in the pronunciations. Just my preference.

  17. I’ve never actually heard it used with a hard G sound. Perhaps it is a regional thing in the United States?

  18. segmation says:

    You are too funny. As long as the “gif” works, I don’t care how it is pronounced!

  19. Oddly enough, I was a little sad that “Yolo” lost to GIF haha. Great post, thanks for sharing and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  20. John says:

    I’ve worked in high-tech for 35 years and I have never heard this pronounced with a “soft-g”, only hard as in “gift”. I had no idea this was even a question.

  21. It’s funny how this term is more well known now. I didn’t know what it meant, so I just started using it in the most ridiculous ways. haha great post, congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  22. I’ve always pronounced it as gif. When people say jif, I think they’re talking about peanut butter. Besides, jif to me just sounds wrong. The hard G makes sense to me because the word ‘graphics’, which is the first word of the acronym, uses a hard G. IDK. If it was Giraffe Interchange Format, then I would pronounce it as jif.

  23. rarasaur says:

    Choosy programmers choose gif! I don’t know if it’s really all that arbitrary to let the creators decide on the name. If everyone decided that Jack was pronounced “Jeh” because it was easier and didn’t remind them so much of the toys, that would be crazy. After all, Jack gets to decide how his name is pronounced. So yep, soft G. Always!

  24. I think soft is just perfect!

  25. I did not even realise this was an issue for people. I am in with the hard G majority here. But I do wonder if it was an issue for a story I wrote….

    On a related note, didn’t they rename Jif (cleaning product) because if was rude in some language, and it is Cif now (pronounced sif), which is kind of rubbish.

  26. to be honest, i’m still confused about what a MEME is.

  27. I have always pronounced it with a soft g. Pronouncing it with a hard g just sounds weird.

  28. John Cowan says:

    I think there’s a wider point to make here: when a word spreads in written form across the boundaries between living speech communities, its pronunciation often falls into the ditch (er, not what ditch means in Ireland, I know) and drowns. When I was a teenager playing around with computers around 1976, I discovered to my wonder a highly advanced text editor known as TECO (a remote ancestor of Emacs, for those to whom that means something). The manual carefully explained that this stood for Text Editor and COrrector, but gave no pronunciation. Without a thought, I immediately called it “Tecco”, and this pronunciation spread to my immediate social group. In a few years, we got in touch with other Teco users, and promptly found out that we had missed it completely: the proper pronunciation was “Teeco”. We all switched at once.

    I’ve had similar experiences with the linguistic technical terms “velar” and “alveolar”; I have to think twice to remember to say “VEE-lar” and “al-VEE-oh-lar” in speech, as my own pronunciations “VELL-ar” and “al-vee-OH-lar” have become so ingrained. In the same way, a regular participant on several mailing lists I belonged to, back in the 80s and 90s, was a Bulgarian linguist whose command of English — e’en Early Modern English — was nothing short of amazing. Shock #1 arrived when he mentioned that after years of saying “triple” in the obvious way as “try-ple”, he had just learned it was properly (and counterintuitively) “tripple”. Someone posted that he was very surprised to find out that someone with such a “Conradian command” of English should have made such a mistake for so long. Shock #2: he had never heard of the word “Conradian”, or of Joseph Conrad.

    • peterdmare says:

      It took me 30 years to learn that “were” was not pronounced like “where”! Here is BC (Canada), they are very polite, but too polite isn’t helpful when one is trying to learn a language, blend in, and get a job!

  29. dominikanita says:

    that’s so strange. i have never head anyone pronounce it like the world “gin” so weird.

  30. eM says:

    My spouse is a graphic artist, but as I’ve watched him work, I’ve wondered about the pronunciation of “.gif” for a while now. He actually read your post (on my WP handle) and voted for option 1, the hard /g/. But the phonetic rule (when followed by i, e, y) still puzzles us. We suppose we lean toward the hard /g/ since it stands for graphics, which is pronounced with a hard /g/. I hope he’s an informed voter. Thanks for the interesting post.

  31. Stan says:

    Thanks for the comments and contributions, all very welcome. Interesting that the “jif” contingent, though still very much a minority, has increased its share of the vote. I noticed the jpg/jpeg factor mentioned a few times on Twitter too, and with the same contradictory effects: motivating some to say “jif” and others hard-g “gif”.

    John, I’ve had a similar experience with velar and alveolar. Having seen them in writing before I heard them, I assumed the same pronunciations you did. The “al-VEE-oh-lar” “al-vee-OH-lar” variant is included in Macmillan and Collins online dictionaries, so I guess it’s fairly common.

  32. Lockhaart says:

    Funnily enough I was only sat here watching TV the other day thinking this myself! I say it like “gift” but often wondered if I was right or not! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  33. S.C. says:

    gif is one of those words I never say out loud because I don’t work in anything within ten miles of a tech industry. I’ve always thought of it as a hard-g gif, though. Don’t know why. I guess it’s just one of those things people need to decide for themselves.

  34. Gif like in gin, I’ll have to admit I had never heard it with a hard g and I am here realizing it seems to be the most common version. How odd.
    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  35. Hard g for me.

    And I happen to be longing for the tools to make a GIF file or ten.

  36. I always thought the “g” was silent… :D

  37. herbytod says:

    Hard-gif…. The g is for graphic…. Hard g!! If graphic had a soft g it would be difficult to separate from all things pertaining to giraffes!! :-)

  38. People always tell me I say it “wrong” but I won’t stop! GIF (like gin) for life!!! :)
    But seriously, thanks for the commentary.

  39. faeorain says:

    You say toe-mah-toe, I say toe-may-toe….I also say ” JIF ” :)

  40. peterdmare says:

    Reason # 1,234, 567,789 to have an English academy ruling on these and other matters!

  41. Stan says:

    Thank you all for the comments and kind words. For those of you wondering which pronunciation was correct, I’m glad to’ve been able to provide an answer; three, even! “Jif” has more support than I would have guessed: currently 24%, at n=608.

    For the record, I see no need for an English academy to rule on this or any other matter.

  42. peterdmare says:

    GIF is the most logical, considering /dʒɪf/ is best left for words that start with “j” like “joke”.

    Kids/students/teachers are begging rational people of this world to demand a regularization (not a revolution) of the English spelling system. It is a backward system that has not been improved significantly for 400 years (or 300 years if you consider Johnson’s feeble attempt)! Do you know ANYTHING that has not been improved in 3 or 400 years? The preponderance of the evidence shows that it is in dire need of a major overhaul! 4 years to learn to read versus 1 for Italian or Finnish! Fewer teachers/programs, reduction in taxes or a better educational system, fewer kids being labelled “reading disabled”, better literacy rates,… It is a no-brainer!

    (BTW, for the “viscerals” or the “over-my-dead-body/traditionalist” types, among us, current literate readers of the current code will not be asked to learn a new code. We know how hard it was for you to learn this code! ;) We empathize! Can you? :) )

  43. crysmeg says:

    Reblogged this on Crysmeg NewMedia Blog and commented:
    As a Graphic/Web Designer and New Media enthusiast, I pronounce it gif like gift. I am a logical person when it comes to language. How would you pronounce it?

  44. Haha, that’s one of those acronyms I don’t enjoy pronouncing. I know it’s “jif” but I always think “gif.” Then again, I don’t think as many people care these days. (Hurray!) It’s kind of like png. Some say “ping” and others actually spell it out. Tomato, tomahto?

    • peterdmare says:

      But I think if you say “JIF” and no one understands you, then we have a problem. :) People might look at you as some idiot as well, when you are not, when you are just pronouncing the word the way you think it is. (Think international company in computer or the graphic space). Some people make very quick decision on people nowadays. We also have a problem when people write JIF when they mean GIF. Time could be wasted. especially considering some people rely heavily on Google translate now! Of course, most of the time, it might not be an issue. but think nuclear industry or medical information/manuals. We need some structure. It is easier. A language is a tool to communicate clearly with each other.

  45. knightmarejjd says:

    I used to say it with a hard g until i got to my university where one of my administrative professors is one of the creators and is very adamant about the soft g pronunciation they had intended. I don’t see how the creators don’t have the final say on the name of their creations like you had mentioned. Wouldn’t other ways of pronouncing the word just be slang?

    • peterdmare says:

      Oh! Okay! What’s his or her name? However, your professor does not teach Grade 1 kids and, if s/he did, s/he would know that the English spelling system does not need ONE more spelling issue! Here is a blog that spell things out.

      4 years to learn to read versus 1 year for learners of languages that have a regular spelling system (Italian, Finnish, Spanish,…).

      What a waste of time and money! Maybe, instead of wasting time asking students to read mindless readers, they could teach them “ethics”, “critical”, and “creative” thinking skills!

      • knightmarejjd says:

        Comparing this to teaching 1st grade is sort of irrelevant. How many first graders are capable of utilizing a computer to the point where they would be using and understanding the difference between file types? I’m not comparing GIF to all of the words in the dictionary. I’m just stating that when they came up with a name for the thing they created they said soft g gif. How is it any different than a parent who names their child with an irregular spelling? I have a friend who’s parents named him Josh but decided to spell it Jasch. The schooling system eats up a lot of time with worthless things instead of “ethics” and “critical thinking” but I wouldn’t blame that on the amount of time it takes to read. I could get into a huge rant about how much school doesn’t teach you but that’s a separate issue.

      • peterdmare says:

        Considering JPG and GIF are very common picture types, it is rather dumb to name the same phoneme with 2 different letters! Whether or not, Grade 1 kids (or Grade 4 kids) will see GIF or not as they use computers, it is likely! Anyway, the point was that the spelling system is confusing enough for Grade 1 students and teachers! The implied rant against teachers or the education system isn’t welcomed. Teachers are not responsible for a lack of leadership when it comes to regularizing a spelling system that is so lacking (the leadership) it (the spelling system) has not improved in 400 years!

        “The schooling system eats up a lot of time with worthless things instead of “ethics” and “critical thinking” but I wouldn’t blame that on the amount of time it takes to read. I could get into a huge rant about how much school doesn’t teach you but that’s a separate issue.”

        I am a retired teacher and I am telling you it takes 3 extra years to teach reading in English, at a minimum. Maybe it is time for superintendents and ministers to be leaders or people to elect people who are, assuming people want things to improve, of course!

      • knightmarejjd says:

        I have no problems with teachers individually I understand they have to abide by the curriculum given to them but the teachers who have stood out the most in my life were the ones that didn’t want me to memorize a topic and regurgitate the information back on a test, they wanted me to think things through and think for myself a little bit.

        I think overall you and I are on the same page, it’s the people in higher power that don’t make any changes to the system. Sometimes I wonder if people want things to improve. Many people don’t even value self-directed thought they want to be told what to think and not think it themselves.

        I have no doubts that it takes an extra 3 years to learn but I wouldn’t blame everything being set back because of that. It would be impossible to rework the entire English language anyway.

        I think we’re also straying from the original, harmless,
        question haha. It’s fine to say it either way, I was just saying that when the creators named it they had intended the soft g. And also GIF file format became a standard before JPEG, both of them being developed nearly simultaneously by different companies so to compare the two and critique GIF for having the same sound doesn’t quite seem fair.

  46. puresketch says:

    Well, I always pronounce it as “gee eye eff”. Good to know so much about that!

  47. sarsparillav says:

    What a lively discussion! I was just going over this the other day with a family member and we settled upon “the hard g.” ;)

  48. Stan says:

    stephanissima ‘I know it’s “jif” but I always think “gif.”’ Actually, it’s both. Say whichever you like. You can even alternate.

    Peter: I appreciate your thoughtful comments, but please ease off on the spelling reform proclamations here. I may address this topic in a future post.

    knightmarejjd: ‘I don’t see how the creators don’t have the final say…’ Because language is democratic, not dictatorial. Norms of pronunciation emerge from the collective conventions of a speech community. Consider a coinage with a less intuitive pronunciation: a hypothetical new item named “Winder”. Some people pronounce it to rhyme with cinder, others with minder, but the inventors insist it’s pronounced “velvet teapot”. Should people be forced to abide by their wish?

    puresketch: Treating it as an initialism is fine too, of course, but might get tricky if you have to inflect it: “gee eye effing/effed”.

    • peterdmare says:

      knight…, I am happy to hear that you have a good balanced view on teaching, schools, and its leadership. I apologize for misinterpreting your comment.

      Regarding the formation of languages and pronunciation, you do know that a bunch of Normans invaded England in the 11th century and imposed/added a French spelling system and pronunciation directly or indirectly, more or less, for more than 300 years. This and many other events created the present mess. Since all this is explained in my blog and this is off-topic, I would urge you to go to my blog, which, I think, explains things thoroughly. I do not want to give the appearance of hijacking this topic.

      To me, it would be easier if the letter G was always pronounced like in “gift”. It would be easier to learn and easier to teach. Imagine what we could teach kids if we did not have to make them go through mindless “activities” to make them remember lists of words that are pronounced irregularly. Did you know that half of the 7000 commonest words in English do not follow “the” rules? And, we tell kids to follow rules!

      • knightmarejjd says:

        I will definitely take a look at it. I see where your coming from with the English language being so messy. It just feels like a nearly impossible task. We’re so set in our ways already.

        For gif itself I guess I’m looking at it as somewhat separate from the core of the language, if that makes any sense, because it was something that a group of people came up with and consciously named it and pronounced it the way they wanted to and it’s almost sort of a respect thing to keep that in mind, at least if you work int he tech field like I do. Just like naming a child or a pet.

        This was a good little discussion I’ll definitely be following your blog peter 8)

      • peterdmare says:

        Thanks, knight…,

        Just to be clear, I am envisaging a reform that would start in schools and last 15 years! No one who can read and write this code will be impacted before 2035 if this were to start in 2020, which is the optimistic start. The impact on current speakers would be really minimal because, by 2035, I am suggesting a society where both codes would live side by side! All this is explained on my website. I understand how hard it was to learn the current form of English.

    • knightmarejjd says:

      If you look up to the interesting conversation peter and I have been having, I do agree that it could be said both ways but I also believe that soft g was what the creators intended and so that should be the “official” way of saying it. I’m not saying that this should be the way it always is with everything even if it doesn’t make sense like you hypothetical situation but I’m saying in this instance it fits. I also think it’s sort of a respect thing that we acknowledge the way they had intended because they put in the work and creativity to make it.

      It’s an interesting situation.

  49. rebeccabartley says:

    Great post! I have always wondered how the word was pronounced and if I was saying it right myself haha. I pronounced it with a hard-g as in the word gift. Thanks for sharing and congrats on being on Freshly Pressed!

    Everyone feel free to check out my blog! All follows, likes, comments, and views are all appreciated! :)

  50. [...] used, and Stan Carey climbed the the steep rise of the fiscal cliff. On his own blog, Stan wondered how to pronounce GIF and if it really matters; explained who’s versus whose; and discussed the invented languages of [...]

  51. David says:

    Count me as another one who didn’t realize there was even a question here, but in my case I’ve always heard and used the soft-g pronunciation. I don’t think I know any of the creators.

  52. Eamonn says:

    You are quite rght that creatorship doesn’t give authority.

  53. peterdmare says:

    Eamon, I agree with you insofar as the creator does not have the right to impose a pronunciation on a process that he or she created because he or she is not qualified to do so. We should leave this decision to phonologists, not software engineers:

    “Steve Wilhite of CompuServe invented the GIF file format which went on to become the de facto standard for 8-bit images on the Internet until the late 1990s. Steve Wilhite remained on the CompuServe/AOL payroll into the first decade of the 21st century working on a variety of CompuServe systems. These included CompuServe’s wire protocol for their GUI clients in the 1980s, new service features in the early 1990s, web chat software in the late 1990s, and investigating web community models [...] Steve Wilhite always used the pronunciation that sounds like Jif peanut butter and if asked would usually reply “Choosy programmers choose ‘jif’.” (Wikipedia)

    As a linguist and a teacher with 20+ years of experience, I believe I have the required qualifications to rule on the matter. Since “G” can be pronounced as a soft (gin,…) or hard G (gift,…), it would make more sense to use the hard G since J is used to represent the soft G sound (John,..). It does not make sense to use 2 letters to represent the same sound. It is important to have spelling systems remain as phonemic as possible so that reading is easier to learn and teach, saving time and money.

  54. Stan says:

    Rebecca: Thank you! Glad I was able to clarify matters.

    David: Thanks for your visit and input.

    Eamonn: Indeed, yet some people think it does, or they use it to defend their own pronunciation and knock others’.

    Peter: No, the decision shouldn’t and won’t be left to phonologists – or to you. People will decide for themselves. Pronunciation, as I’ve written in the post, is a question of general agreement, not autocratic rule. That means there will often be more variety and inconsistency than some would prefer. Such is English.

    • peterdmare says:

      Thanks, Stan, for your response!

      I understand your concern! After all, Samuel Johnson who was chosen to choose the way we spell words made a mess of it! I would prefer to have a number (the French chose 40) to rule on the matter! I would prefer linguists because I would think they would know something about languages! I would prefer people who are capable to rule on the matter rather than millions of people who don’t even know what a phoneme is! Would you want a linguist to fix your leaky boat?

      I understand your preference to keep the system as is ! After all, humans survived (or not) the walk to the river to fetch some water or the hunt against the lions! Too bad for the ones who did not make it! Are you afraid that if we change systems You might not make it, You might lose the edge that you have NOW! But, rest easy, Stan! Reformists like me envisage a reform that would span at least 20 years! It would be phased in schools, grade after grade! You (and all people who use the present code) will be dead or retired when the first users of the new system will be “out”! :) Don’t worry! Tyranny is NO progress! :) Progress is my blog! :)

      • peterdmare says:

        Erratum in the last post: “Are you afraid that if we change the (spelling) system you might not be able to learn the new one or you might lose the edge that you have NOW?”

        BTW, IMHO, I am surprised Stan that you prefer to subject millions of people to the tyrannical or autocratic forces of those 91 spelling rules (2x as many rules as the average language), but also the ten of thousands of exceptions to these rules (AKA other rules within those rules)! I love freedom as much as you do, but the present spelling system is extremely oppressive, I think!

  55. Steve says:

    I pronounce it with a hard g.

  56. [...] Altri dettagli in Oxford Dictionaries USA e How do you pronounce GIF? Does it matter? [...]

  57. Neal says:

    The other interesting thing about GIF is semantic: Its meaning has now been narrowed (among some speakers, including my sons and their peers) to mean an *animated* GIF, which was unheard of when I learned the word GIF. One son was showing me an animation, and the same thing kept happening. I figured it would happen once, twice, and then something funny would happen on the third time… but then it kept on repeating. My son told me several times as I watched, “It’s a GIF,” and I was like, “OK, so what?” For a few weeks after that whenever he’d say someone had sent him a GIF, or he’d seen a GIF, I’d ask for clarification: “You mean an animated GIF?” He got pretty annoyed after a while.

    • Stan says:

      Neal: Thanks for the anecdote. The GIF = “animated GIF” sense seems to be gradually squeezing out the older one. That’s just my impression, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the “static GIF” sense were to decline precipitously in a generation. I’ve seen it suggested that we use the soft-g/hard-g pronunciations to disambiguate the two senses, but I can’t see that catching on or being applied consistently by a significant number of speakers, nor do I see a pressing need for it.

      • There isn’t much use for GIF as a format for static images anymore, given its 256 colour limit. Simple, easy-to-load animation is the only application for which it retains a niche. So it’s not surprising that animated GIFs are increasingly the default case.

        (As for precipitous decline, are these mouse or dog generations? Terminology relating to computer file formats has no chance of remaining stable over a human generation…)

  58. Doug says:

    Reblogged this on The Snallygaster and commented:
    I never realized there were so many sick people out there who pronounce “GIF” with a g like “gift”. What is wrong with people?!?!

    • peterdmare says:

      That’s what happens when you don’t have rules and lots of exceptions AND no regulatory body to rule on the matter! Considering “g” in through is not pronounced, I suppose one could even say “if” ! What a waste of time to discuss this when there could be a rule!

  59. b00f says:

    A lot of words get pronounced differently between different flavors of English. I think different pronunciations and spellings are 100% fine as long as a significant demographic understand and use it.

    I’m sure theres someone from India who pronounces GIF as “jeef” or “geef”. Instead of alternate pronunciations, it’d be more important to focus on flat-out wrong pronunciations like “pro-nounce-iation” and “ass-ess-ory”.

  60. […] In a recent post on GIFs, he asked his readers: How do you pronounce GIF? […]

  61. […] written about the pronunciation of GIF before, but a lot of people are still confused about it. There’s no need to be. Wilhite may have […]

  62. […] In a recent post on GIFs, he asked his readers: How do you pronounce GIF? […]

  63. […] vs. soft g is a perennial issue; I’ve already written about the great gif debate, twice. But with gif (and doge) there are sound arguments for various pronunciations. Imgur, with […]

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