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This is probably related to whether one should capitalize Internet or not. I am looking for the correct spelling of wifi when referring to a wireless connection to the Internet. I want to tell the users of my iPhone app that they cannot use their cellular network to watch the HD videos.

If I use the capitalized and hyphenated version as seen on Wikipedia, will I be referring to the Wi-Fi brand rather than the concept of wifi?

"Wi-Fi" is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance and the brand name for products using the IEEE 802.11 family of standards.

Some dude on Meta.stackoverflow made this claim with no explanation:

WiFi" is a bit better than "wifi" as it asserts the etymology, compare history of usage of "hifi" from which it derives. – Steve-o Aug 29 at 3:59

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The Wi-Fi Alliance is just a trade association. They won't come knocking on your door in the middle of the night if you use their terminology. They're only interested in shutting out comptetition from any major global manufacturers who don't want to join them. Anyway, you've answered your own question by the mere fact that you happily wrote wifi twice in the first paragraph before wondering about capitalisation/hyphenation. Use what comes naturally to mind. –  FumbleFingers Sep 9 '11 at 0:10
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My experience (non-native speaker from Europe) is: "WiFi" is rarely used, most people/places refer to it as "WLAN". I'm curous: does anyone else observe this outside of the US? In German language text I see "WLAN" being used exclusively and in English language text around Europe there seems to be a strong tendency towards "WLAN". –  Joachim Sauer Sep 9 '11 at 6:17
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Too localized??? Spelling a common term is a common problem, not a localized one. Please explain. I would vote to reopen if I had the privilege. –  hippietrail Sep 14 '12 at 14:42
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This reminds me very much of this question: Is “blah blah blah” the most common spelling? –  hippietrail Sep 14 '12 at 14:46
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I agree with hippietrail. It is extraordinarily shortsighted to claim that this question is unlikely to help any future visitors. –  xpda Oct 2 '12 at 20:28
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closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, Thursagen, Daniel, aedia λ, Mehper C. Palavuzlar Sep 9 '11 at 6:42

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Since you have an iPhone app and it would seem that Apple/iPhone use the term "Wi-Fi" throughout then I would use the same for consistency. iPhone users expect to see "Wi-Fi".

However, there could be a regional difference...

Note: iOS devices sold in China may use the term Wireless LAN (WLAN) instead of Wi-Fi.

Reference: http://support.apple.com/kb/ts1398

(EDIT: For comparison, my Nokia E65 (sold in the UK) uses the terms "WLAN" or "Wireless LAN" exclusively, no mention of "Wi-Fi" or its derivatives.)

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In the past it was Wi-Fi, but the current trend is toward WiFi.

It's a little like e-Mail => eMail => email.

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Could you provide some kind of reference to back up this claim please? –  hippietrail Sep 14 '12 at 14:43
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This question was closed, inappropriately in my opinion, because it is "unlikely to help any future visitors." But you can Google "wi-fi" and "wifi", and you'll find that wifi has more hits. "Wi-fi" used to have more hits. –  xpda Sep 17 '12 at 3:27
    
I believe this question should be reopened. Can we say two years later that this trend been confirmed? –  Mari-Lou A Sep 11 '13 at 8:06
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According to publications like PC Magazine which would be more likely to use the "correct" spelling, the word is spelled:

Wi-Fi

A wireless local area network (WLAN) technology that conforms to the IEEE 802.11 standard. Wi-Fi is the wireless counterpart to the wired Ethernet network, which is the ubiquitous local area network (LAN) technology used in companies and homes worldwide. A Wi-Fi logo from the Wi-Fi Alliance certifies that network devices comply with the IEEE 802.11 standards.

However, this page from Princeton spells it WiFi. Based on a quick Google search, most official sites (such as Starbucks) use either WiFi or Wi-Fi. Since there is so much variation, wifi looks fine as it is, and people understand the forms wifi, WiFi, Wi-Fi and possibly Wifi, you could use any of them and still be fine. The key to your use is that you are aiming towards being understood, not necessarily maintaining the trademark. (If we all maintained trademarks, we wouldn't refer to Blackberries instead of Blackberry mobile devices.)

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I really think this is one case where even in quotes, the word "correct" is a bit misplaced. Also note that even after many decades, usage for the analogous hifi/hi-fi is still split pretty much 50-50, so it ain't going anywhere fast. –  FumbleFingers Sep 9 '11 at 0:23
    
I think all variations of wifi are understandable. I'm not worried about sounding strange to my users. I'm just wondering if a particular variant would result in legal issues because it refers to a company's trademark rather than a general concept. –  JoJo Sep 9 '11 at 0:25
    
Prepare yourself for the possibility that the freelance journalist writing for PC Magazine arbitrarily chose the orthography that they preferred and nobody cared terribly much. Whether that makes it "correct" or not I think is a largely pointless and/or unanswerable question... –  Neil Coffey Sep 9 '11 at 1:18
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