"GIF" = "animated GIF"

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Mon Aug 6 04:10:08 UTC 2012

My nearly 14y.o. son was showing me an internet video from one of his
favorite sites these days, Memebase. The video was repetitive, and I kept
waiting for the punch line to come. My son said a couple of times, "It's a
GIF," which didn't register on me at all as I kept on watching the video.
Then he explained that it just kept repeating. In days since, he has
referred to other GIFs, and has shaken his head in amusement when I clarify,
"You mean an animated GIF?" After all, what other kind of GIF could he
possibly be talking about? He doesn't have my memories of reading Usenet
postings in the pre-Windows era in 1991, with posters being asked to "upload
a GIF," meaning just a picture.

Is this just a bit of Relevance-based semantic narrowing in my son's peer
group, or have others noticed a shift in the meaning of "GIF"?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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