Battle Over Pronunciation Of “GIF” Becomes Its Own Meme, But Image Format Inventor Settles Debate

GIF images, the meme-tastic image format that’s animated form has experienced an explosion in popularity the past couple of years, has been the subject of much debate amongst users both casual and frequent: Do you pronounce GIF the same way you say “gift” or is it a soft ‘G’ like Jif, the peanut butter.

This week, in an interview with the New York Times, Steve Wilhite, the man who invented the .gif format in 1987, settled the debate once and for all.

“The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations,” Wilhite told the New York Times. “They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ’jif.’ End of story.”

Ouch. A shot to the gut of people like me who for years have not only just pronounced GIF the “gift” way, but have actually engaged others in the debate of gif versus jif, and fervently defended the “hard G” pronunciation.

Despite Wilhite’s ruling in the New York Times, I am going to press forward and keep pronouncing GIF the way I always have. To me, soft-G gif — meaning Jif — is a peanut butter. It is something that choosy moms choose. Choosy moms don’t choose animated pictures of kittens chasing balls of yarn or a series of screenshots from classic episodes of The Office, they choose a delicious peanut butter that couples well with jam.

How do you pronounce “gif”? Will Wilhite’s ruling of how it is pronounced change your view going forward?

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