Forget the Presidential Debate, GIF vs JIF is the One We Care About

By: Chris Acampora – Featuring Kristen Plahn for team ‘GIF’


This article is best viewed at to see GIFs in their full glory. (But we still love you if you’re reading this in print)

Everyone has seen a GIF. Even if you think you haven’t, you have.

keyboard-cat dancing-banana

C’mon. You’ve have to admit you’ve seen these before.

The Internet has is very serious with GIFs. Even Google Docs recognizes the GIF. (Although I wouldn’t put one on your next essay for English class).

GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. It was created almost 30 years ago (seriously, it’s that old) by Steve Wilhite. Its purpose was to achieve “video” but load quickly on the slow Internet speeds of the past. It is accomplished using lossless compression, a technique where file size is shrunk, while still retaining good image quality.

The GIF, though, has been plagued by a raging debate. Is it pronounced ‘gif’ or ‘jif’? The debate over the pronunciation of GIF has ruined lives, marriages and friendships, so it needs to stop. That is why today we have decided to try to put an end to it.

Team Soft G: Chris


Wilhite, while accepting a lifetime achievement award in 2013, told The New York Times how annoyed he was over the pronunciation debate. “The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both definitions. They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,” pronounced ‘jif.”

The guy has a lifetime achievement award. You should respect his creation! A lot of things don’t sound like they are written: pneumonia, aisle, tsunami, xylophone, eight . . . to name a few.

‘Gif’ people are such hypocrites. The most common image file, the .JPEG, stands for Joint Photographic Expert Group.  Since the “ph” in photographic is pronounced like an “F,” then people who say ‘gif’ should say ‘jfeg,’ right? But they don’t.

Team Hard G: Kristen


GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. Look closely at the first word: graphics. How is graphics pronounced? With a hard ‘G’. If you need more proof than that, just look at almost all of the one-syllable words that start with the letter ‘G’, like guy, gum, gun, gain, grain, game, gift . . . I could go on. In one poll by The Los Angeles Times, more than 60 percent of people pronounced the word with a hard ‘G’ sound! To understand how GIF came to be pronounced as ‘JIF,’ you can look back to Wilhite saying that the only reason he wanted to pronounce it as ‘JIF’ was because of the peanut butter company! If the company Jif was never created, then GIF would be only pronounced with a hard ‘G’.


The final answer to this debate is up to YOU, the Reader. Will you pick team ‘GIF’ or ‘JIF?’ Use the arguments here, and the further reading listed below, to make your decision. The only way to come to a world-wide decision and finally settle the issue is to get people passionate about your side. What is written here doesn’t matter if YOU, the Reader, don’t pick side. So go ahead. Make a choice. . . Tell us your answer in the comments.

Sources & Further Reading



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