Rebuttals to Improper Pronunciation of GIF

In case you weren’t aware, there has been a long-standing debate on the pronunciation of the GIF file format. The “G” is actually pronounced like the “g” in “giraffe.” But, most people read the word before hearing someone actually say it, and they assume it is pronounced like “gift.”

Being a nonconfrontational person, I generally avoid correcting others — although my wife would disagree — but I find it amusing when some people try to justify a flawed position. Here are some of the reasons I’ve come across for continuing to say GIF incorrectly and my rebuttals to those reasons.


If the creator wanted people to pronounce it like a “J”, he should have called it JIF.

The creator can name and pronounce it however he wants. If my name were Todd but it was spelled like Toad, people would still call me Todd, because they would respect my wishes (hopefully). The point is, when you create something — whether it be a child or a file format — you get to decide the spelling and pronunciation. That’s your privilege.

The “G” stands for graphics, so it should be a hard “G”.

Scuba stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, so by your logic, it should be pronounced with a short “u”, as in “scrub,” because we say “underwater,” not “oonderwater.” Acronyms aren’t pronounced based on the words their letters represent.

Everyone else I’ve heard pronounces it with a hard “G”.

And everyone thought the sun orbited the earth for thousands of years. This is an appeal to popularity logical fallacy. To be honest, in the graphics and design industry, the “J” sound for GIF is more popular; it’s the common, layman pronunciation that gets it wrong. Unfortunately, commercial media isn’t helping, as seen in this ad by Kmart.

People were saying GIF with a hard “G” before the creator publicly corrected them. He should have said so sooner.

People don’t seem to understand that Steve Wilhite, GIF’s creator, has always pronounced it with a “J” sound and was known to often correct those that said it incorrectly. I suppose that the French also should have said that the correct pronunciation of the word “voilà” is not “wallah” before everyone started saying it. The truth is that the creator of the word doesn’t assume that everyone is going to get it wrong; therefore, there isn’t a need to make such public announcements.

I’ve always said it that way and I’m not going to stop now.

That’s your perogative. I would of spent more time on this rebuttal but, it’s a doggy dog world, and I imagine you’re the type of person that probaly makes all kinds of pronounciation faux pas. Irregardless, finish your expresso and go about your bidness.

Sadly, we live in a world where many people won’t get the irony in the previous three sentences.