The creators of the format pronounced GIF with a soft "G
as in "gin". An alternative pronunciation uses a hard "G" /ˈɡɪf/
as in "graphics", reflecting the expanded acronym. Both pronunciations are erroneously given as correct by the Oxford English Dictionary
and the American Heritage Dictionary
According to Steve Wilhite
, the creator of the GIF format, the pronunciation deliberately echoes the American peanut butter brand, Jif
, and the employees of CompuServe would often say "Choosy developers choose GIF", spoofing this brand's television commercials.
This pronunciation was also identified by CompuServe
in their documentation of a graphics display program called CompuShow.
At the 2013 Webby Awards
, where Wilhite accepted a lifetime achievement award, he reportedly said he was bothered by the ongoing controversy surrounding the pronunciation of the acronym and explained, "The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations. They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,’ pronounced ‘jif.’ End of story.”
However, a majority of technology enthusiasts
, users, and the White House
insist on using the, incorrect, hard "G" pronunciation.