It's GIF, with a 'j' - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

It's GIF, with a 'j'

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The pronunciation for GIF is like the peanut butter brand Jif. There's even a reference to the snack in old user manuals for the GIF. The pronunciation for GIF is like the peanut butter brand Jif. There's even a reference to the snack in old user manuals for the GIF.

(RNN) - Tuesday, Steve Wilhite, the creator of the popular file format GIF, or Graphics Interchange Format, dropped a bombshell about the ubiquitous internet mainstay and put an end to more than a decade of debate.

It's pronounced "jif."

"The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations," Wilhite told the New York Times. "They are wrong. It is a soft ‘G,' pronounced ‘jif.' End of story."

Why it took so long for someone to finally, once and for all, proclaim the final answer to this question is hard to say, but now we know.

Wilhite was honored with a lifetime achievement award at The Webby Awards, an international award "honoring excellence on the internet," for his invention of the GIF.

The GIF is a popular file extension for images which has built in file compression, and allows something other small file formats previously couldn't – animation. Those moving, repeating pictures you see all over the web are likely GIFs.

"The GIF has had an immeasurable impact on the way users interface with the web and how designers and developers present visual data and imagery," the Webby Awards said in a statement.

In a world where technology quickly comes and goes, especially online, the GIF remains extremely popular and widespread.

What once started out with simple flashing text and spinning objects has been turned into short clips of video scenes and full-length animations, perfect for quick page loading and for those moments when a simple text response just isn't enough to capture your feelings on a subject.

"The proliferation of the GIF within today's meme-powered, Tumblr-driven, pop culture proves it a lasting format still among the most celebrated on the web," according to the Webby Awards.

Wilhite created the GIF in 1987 while working at CompuServe, the nation's first major online service. The GIF was to replace black and white images used as illustrations. The first GIF was an image of an airplane.

In 2012 the GIF was officially recognized as both a verb and a noun by the Oxford University Press, which also voted it their word of the year.

While the GIF has not been retired, Wilhite has. He suffered a stroke in 2000 and retired in 2001. He told the New York Times he spends his time going on RV trips, dabbling in color photography and Java programming, and keeps up with his family through email and Facebook.

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