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I came across the picture below (http://comics.likeyou.me/he-has-wifi/1586/).

Despite the fact this is a comic, I'm wondering if the word "WiFi" is being used correctly here. Shouldn't it be "wireless" rather than "WiFi"?

I have done some searches before asking, with this results (Merriam Webster):

WiFi: used to certify the interoperability of wireless computer networking devices.

wireless: having no wire or wires.

Has "WiFi" become synonym of "wireless" in some informal contexts?

enter image description here

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closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, Robusto, Carlo_R., Cameron, MετάEd Oct 4 '12 at 0:15

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Native speakers either say WiFi or Wireless Internet. They seldom say just Wireless. Back in the day, however, Wireless used to be synonymous with the radio. –  coleopterist Oct 3 '12 at 13:19
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In order to show that WiFi is indeed a synonym of wireless in some informal contexts, I could point you to a certain cartoon which demonstrates that. –  Andrew Leach Oct 3 '12 at 13:21
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This entry about WiFi on the blog The Inky Fool is interesting (and humorous). –  JLG Oct 3 '12 at 13:48
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"Wireless" was (is?) a synonym for "radio" in the UK, but not in the US, where we always say "radio". "Wireless Internet" doesn't make literal sense: your local network may be wireless, but the entire Internet certainly is not. I've often heard "wireless printer", "wireless LAN", "wireless network", etc. I've heard "Our office is wireless" and "I set up a wireless network in my house" and "We decided to go wireless". –  Jay Oct 3 '12 at 13:51
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If the comic writer said 'wireless', it would be -too- obvious a visual pun ("see, the bird is -not- on a wire so is wireless, get it?"). So the joke makes you work a little. It's not that funny anyways. –  Mitch Oct 3 '12 at 13:54

2 Answers 2

WiFi is a very specific type of wireless. It is an actual certification of interoperability with devices, but is really used casually to mean the short range radio signals used to carry IP packets in private unregulated radio frequencies, sometimes known as 802.11a, b, g or n.

Wireless means any kind of wireless communication, such as your cell phone communication, walkie talkies, TV broadcast, GPS, and many, many other applications.

So WiFi is a type of wireless, but not all wireless is WiFi.

A lion is a type of cat, but not all cats are lions.

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WiFi, as a technical term, is used to refer to the whole technology:

Wi-Fi (play /ˈwaɪfaɪ/, also spelled Wifi or WiFi) is a popular technology that allows an electronic device to exchange data wirelessly (using radio waves) over a computer network, including high-speed Internet connections. wiki

(similar definitions can be found on many other sites, too).

So I believe that in this case "He has Wi-Fi" can be replaced with "He's using a technology for wireless data transfer", with wireless being the key for the joke about the birds and the wire. However, I think that if you just say "He has wireless", that would not be absolutely correct (strictly speaking), although most people should understand it as well.

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