Author Topic: Pronunciation of popular image formats - gif is pronounced jif (/ˈdʒɪf/)  (Read 4331 times)


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Pronunciation of popular image formats - gif is pronounced jif (/ˈdʒɪf/)

GIF is pronounced jif [όπως λέμε jif με αμμωνία]
PNG is pronounced ping
JPG is pronounced - jaypeg

An example of a short GIF animation made with a digital camera

The GIF graphics file format was invented by CompuServe in 1987. In the years since, a debate has been raging as to the correct way to pronounce "GIF": like "jif", or with a hard 'g' as in "gift" as a majority of Mac users seem to prefer. With this page I intend to clear this up once and for all...

It's pronounced like "jif". Period. The end. That's final. End of story.

You disagree? Hey, I'm just quoting the inventors of the format. Here's the evidence:

CompuServe used to distribute a graphics display program called CompuShow. In the documentation for version 8.33 in the FAQ section, it states:

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

The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) is an 8-bit-per-pixel bitmap image format that was introduced by CompuServe in 1987 and has since come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability.

The format uses a palette of up to 256 distinct colors from the 24-bit RGB color space. It also supports animations and allows a separate palette of 256 colors for each frame. The color limitation makes the GIF format unsuitable for reproducing color photographs and other images with continuous color, but it is well-suited for more simple images such as graphics or logos with solid areas of color.

GIF images are compressed using the Lempel-Ziv-Welch (LZW) lossless data compression technique to reduce the file size without degrading the visual quality. This compression technique was patented in 1985. Controversy over the licensing agreement between the patent holder, Unisys, and CompuServe in 1994 inspired the development of the Portable Network Graphics (PNG) standard; since then all the relevant patents have expired.


The creators of the format pronounced GIF with a soft "g", /ˈdʒɪf/, as in "George". However, many people pronounce GIF with a hard "G", as in a 'gift' IPA: /ˈɡɪf/, reflecting the way it is pronounced in its own acronym (Graphics Interchange Format). According to the creator of the GIF format, Steve Wilhite, the pronunciation deliberately echoes that of an American peanut butter brand, Jif, and the employees of CompuServe would often say "Choosy developers choose GIF", spoofing this brand's television commercials.[citation needed] This pronunciation was also identified by CompuServe in their documentation of a graphics display program called CompuShow. Both pronunciations are given as correct by the Oxford English Dictionary and the American Heritage Dictionary.
« Last Edit: 16 Jul, 2008, 03:10:05 by spiros »