Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

“Hi-fi” is to “High fidelity” as “Wi-fi” is to what? I thought to refer "Wi-fi" to “wireless fidelity”, but it seem to have no precise meaning.

share|improve this question
wifi. Please refer to dictionaries before asking meaning questions. If the dictionary doesn't satisfy you, please explain why in your question. –  Matt Эллен Aug 24 '12 at 10:49
Thank you Dwight and Matt! So, wi-fi does not mean 'wireless fidelity', it means hi-fi with one letter changed! –  Elberich Schneider Aug 24 '12 at 10:56
No! It is the brand name of IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence. The Fi doesn't mean anything. –  Matt Эллен Aug 24 '12 at 11:19
Yes, @Matt! I agree, it seems more plausible that "wireless fidelity" would, if it meant anything at all, refer to a spouse who remained faithful even when not attached to electrodes! Haha! –  Elberich Schneider Aug 24 '12 at 11:23
show 1 more comment

closed as general reference by TimLymington, Mitch, Hugo, Mark Beadles, jwpat7 Aug 24 '12 at 14:40

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Google has the answer:

"The name The term Wi-Fi, first used commercially in August 1999, was coined by a brand-consulting firm called Interbrand Corporation. The Wi-Fi Alliance had hired Interbrand to determine a name that was "a little catchier than 'IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence'". Belanger also stated that Interbrand invented Wi-Fi as a play on words with Hi-Fi (high fidelity), and also created the Wi-Fi logo."

share|improve this answer
And Hi-Fi itself originated in the 50s phrase "high fidelity", and then signified "cutting-edge sound recording and playback technology"; but by the 60s it actually meant little more than "playback system a cut above the lowest consumer grade". –  StoneyB Aug 24 '12 at 11:44
Yes, @StoneyB! Hi-fi has existed since 1934. The Germans, as you say, tried to standardise the meaning of the term hi-fi back in the sixties, but it didn't really catch on. It was just a general term of approval that then became interchangeable with cassette player because everybody claimed to be highly faithful. –  Elberich Schneider Aug 24 '12 at 12:46
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.