The Actual Pronunciation of GIF, from the Creator


Steve Wilhite giving the correct pronunciation as his Webby Award acceptance speech

The pronunciation of GIF is one of the oldest and most aggressive internet debates. Some of these will never be settled, but luckily with the GIF debate there’s an actual answer.

The creator of the GIF, Steve Wilhite, not only pronounces it as “jif”, but he says that’s is the only proper way to say it.

The image above is his acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award at the Webby’s in 2013. His speech was itself a GIF, which you can see in the image above. This, in my opinion, shuts down all counterarguments.

The creator of a thing has the ability to not only name that thing, but to determine a correct pronunciation. Like Linus did with Linux.

I actually prefer the hard-g pronunciation to “jif”. And I get all the arguments for why it should be a hard-g.

Doesn’t matter.

If the creator tells you how to pronounce it—and how not to pronounce it—there’s your answer.


  1. I should clarify: this argument only pertains to people having the argument. The Supersayan form of this debate is not to have it, because language is dynamic, not static. The truth about language is that it’s not the “proper” thing that matters, is the the “used” thing that matters—at least over the long-term. Our language is full of “correct” words and phrases that were absolutely incorrect in the past. So, if you can, try not to take any of this too seriously. And if you must, I recommend using the logic above.