How Do You Pronounce GIF?

By Devon Glenn 

Have you been saying GIF with a hard “G” all these years? You’re doing it wrong, say the makers of this animated video.

In “A History of the GIF: Moving the Still,” produced by LEGS, director Sean Pecknold schools viewers on the origin of the funny, dancing images we love so much.

CompuServe released the first GIF in 1987 under the file name 87A. When the name was changed to Graphics Interchange Format, inventor Steve Wilhite pronounced the acronym GIF with a soft “G,” or “J” sound, like the peanut butter.

What’s in a name? Not much. Twenty-five years later, the animators say the “GIF is still hanging out, all popular and stuff.”

The video was made in association with Moving the Still: A Gif Festival. In it, you can see the evolution of the GIF from its humble beginnings making babies dance on Ally McBeal through its current uses: shooting lasers out of cats’ eyes and making barf more colorful.

A Short History of the Gif | Moving the Still from LEGS MEDIA on Vimeo.