I know there isn’t a correct way to pronounce gif. And its an abbreviation. There are two ways to pronounce it

  1. Hard G ( as in gift)

  2. Soft G( as in giraffe)

This is a classic example of toe-ma-toe vs toe-mah-toe. This is a question. This is a bit opinion based.You are free to downvote this post. But i request you to comment why you are downvoting this post.

I read this article.
There are two common ways to pronounce this abbreviation.

  1. Gif as an gift.
  2. Gif ( jif) as giraffe

I am still confused.
Different people pronounce it different way.
I have two following questions
1. Why is there no standard way pronounce it?
2. Why does its creator use different way to pronounce it( he prefers gif as in giraffe)

Some users may say that this question has already been answered by (Deciding pronunciation of new words that don't obey natural rules of a language). But the above does not appear in the search results directly. Indeed, the title and the specifics are different. And there is general confusion due to videos and articles such as this YouTube clip.

Which one should I use? Or Can I use both? I have already read the following articles.

  1. Pronunciation according to OLD
  2. Wikipedia's article
  3. Stackexchange's article Deciding pronunciation of new words that don't obey natural rules of a language)

  4. Pronouncing acronyms

  • 7
    "But every word should have a standard way to pronounce it" Wrong.
    – user323578
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 14:01
  • @James Random i agree with you. So how do you pronounce it?
    – Pie
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 14:10
  • 3
    Merriam-Webster defines both pronunciations—as with many words. So, take your pick. There is no right way. Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 14:43
  • 4
    Further down in the article: "The creator of the GIF image format, Steve Wilhite of CompuServe, when deciding on the pronunciation, said he deliberately chose to echo the American peanut butter brand, Jif, and CompuServe employees would often say “Choosy developers choose GIF(jif)”, playing off of Jif’s television commercials. If you hear anyone pronounce GIF with a soft G, it’s because they know something of this history. " Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 14:50
  • 2
    Choosy programmers choose Jif!
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 0:20

3 Answers 3


Use whichever version you prefer, both are in widespread use.

According to CNN the creator gave his opinion in 2013:

Steve Wilhite created the Graphics Interchange Format, or GIF, while working for Compuserve in 1987. On Tuesday, he received a Webby Award for it and delivered his five-word acceptance speech (that's all the Webbys allow) by flashing a GIF on the big screens at the Cipriani Wall Street in New York.

And, in a flash, it all became clear:

"It's pronounced JIF, not GIF."

Perhaps 26 years too late! The hard-G version is so widespread, I tend to hear hard-G GIF the most and have seen little evidence of change in the past decade or so.

In 2015, internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch concluded in her article Why the Pronunciation of GIF Really Can Go Either Way:

In other words, when you see a new word starting with "gi," your previous exposure to "gi" words is basically telling you to flip a coin—it's just as likely that you'll decide to pronounce it with a hard g as with a soft g. And you'll never find an overwhelming enough piece of counter-evidence to get you to change your mind. Which probably means we'll be fighting the gif pronunciation war for generations to come.

See also Time's Timeline of the Debate About How to Pronounce GIF.

So take your pick, but expect some people to say it's wrong!

(I prefer hard-G GIF.)


People who have seen a lot of computing language disputes, like the inventor of the sudo command, tend to be agnostic and not really care that much about how to say things, so long as it isn't confusing. I think that's the educated position to take. I use #1 out of habit, tradition, and since that's how the words in the file extension would be sounded out. Also there is a .jif format which predates gif. And Jif is a peanut butter, which is not obviously confusing, but better safe than sorry if you're part of the generation whose parents were confused by terms like "mouse."


It is pronounced 'Jif'.

Would you believe there is even a web page devoted to the pronunciation?!?!

http://www.olsenhome.com/gif/ The GIF Pronunciation Page

The documentation for version 8.33 even states:

"The GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), pronounced "JIF", was designed by CompuServe and the official specification released in June of 1987."

Having said all of that, depending on who I am talking to I refer to it with a hard 'gee' sound. I think you could make yourself sound like a bit of a 'gerk' referring to it with a soft 'juh' sound. :-)

  • 3
    It's "graphics", not "jraphics,". By the time the creator was asked, the issue was already pretty contentious in the software industry and on the web. I'm rather inclined to believe the creator simply answered "jif" to mock the question and "troll" folks all across the internet. There's just positively no intelligent reason to pronounce it this way. That said, some people do pronounce it this way, and that's not "wrong" exactly. Gift, gist, gill, gel, game, gem. English is weird.
    – R Mac
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 1:05
  • 3
    sure, and the p in jpeg stands for "photographic", yet we pronounce it "peg" not "feg" so I find this argument for the logic of pronouncing the g in gif like a j to be uncompelling. Similarly, the g in GATT standards for "general" but we pronounce it "gat" not "jat".
    – nohat
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 15:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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