orthography - How do you spell wifi / Wi-Fi / WiFi?

  • JoJo

    This is probably related to whether one should capitalize Internet or not. I am looking for the correct spelling of wifi when referring to a wireless connection to the Internet. I want to tell the users of my iPhone app that they cannot use their cellular network to watch the HD videos.

    If I use the capitalized and hyphenated version as seen on Wikipedia, will I be referring to the Wi-Fi brand rather than the concept of wifi?

    "Wi-Fi" is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance and the brand name for products using the IEEE 802.11 family of standards.

    Some dude on Meta.stackoverflow made this claim with no explanation:

    WiFi" is a bit better than "wifi" as it asserts the etymology, compare history of usage of "hifi" from which it derives. – Steve-o Aug 29 at 3:59

  • Answers
  • w3d

    Since you have an iPhone app and it would seem that Apple/iPhone use the term "Wi-Fi" throughout then I would use the same for consistency. iPhone users expect to see "Wi-Fi".

    However, there could be a regional difference...

    Note: iOS devices sold in China may use the term Wireless LAN (WLAN) instead of Wi-Fi.

    Reference: http://support.apple.com/kb/ts1398

    (EDIT: For comparison, my Nokia E65 (sold in the UK) uses the terms "WLAN" or "Wireless LAN" exclusively, no mention of "Wi-Fi" or its derivatives.)

  • aedia λ

    According to publications like PC Magazine which would be more likely to use the "correct" spelling, the word is spelled:


    A wireless local area network (WLAN) technology that conforms to the IEEE 802.11 standard. Wi-Fi is the wireless counterpart to the wired Ethernet network, which is the ubiquitous local area network (LAN) technology used in companies and homes worldwide. A Wi-Fi logo from the Wi-Fi Alliance certifies that network devices comply with the IEEE 802.11 standards.

    However, this page from Princeton spells it WiFi. Based on a quick Google search, most official sites (such as Starbucks) use either WiFi or Wi-Fi. Since there is so much variation, wifi looks fine as it is, and people understand the forms wifi, WiFi, Wi-Fi and possibly Wifi, you could use any of them and still be fine. The key to your use is that you are aiming towards being understood, not necessarily maintaining the trademark. (If we all maintained trademarks, we wouldn't refer to Blackberries instead of Blackberry mobile devices.)

  • Mari-Lou A

    In the past it was Wi-Fi, but the current trend is toward WiFi.

    It's a little like e-Mail => eMail => email.

  • Related Question

    orthography - How do you spell Muammar Qaddafi?
  • nohat

    This name, which is spelled القذافي in Arabic, is spelled in so many different ways in the Latin alphabet:

    Gadafi, Gadaffi, Gaddafi, Gaddaffi, Gadhafi, Gadhaffi, Ghadafi, Ghadaffi, Ghaddafi, Ghaddaffi, Ghadhafi, Ghadhaffi, Kadafi, Kadaffi, Kaddafi, Kadhafi, Khadafi, Khaddafi, Khaddaffi, Khadhafi, Khadhaffi, Qadafi, Qadaffi, Qaddafi, Qaddaffi, Qadhafi, Qadhaffi, Qadhdhafi, Qathafi

    Why are there so many ways of spelling it? Which one should be used in general usage?

  • Related Answers
  • Robusto

    Well, good question. I hate to dump a Wikipedia answer on you, but the site does point us in an interesting direction:

    In 1986, Gaddafi reportedly responded to a Minnesota school's letter in English using the spelling "Moammar El-Gadhafi".[106] The title of the homepage of algathafi.org reads "Welcome to the official site of Muammar Al Gathafi".[107]

    The article also references The Straight Dope, a mainstay fact-finding and generally informative and entertaining column written by "Cecil Adams" for The Reader, my hometown's free weekly, which elaborates on the issue. In it we find this bit of corroborative information:

    How Should We Spell Gadhafi?

    Well, there's no real right answer. However, the Straight Dope provides some sound advice. It notes that it is a general rule of thumb that if there is doubt over how to spell a person's name, you simply use the version that the person in question uses. In this case, it's a bit tricky since Khadafi spells his name in Arabic.

    However, the Straight Dope points out a strange incident that sheds some light on this issue. Back in May, 1986, Kadafi wrote a letter to a class of second-graders in St. Paul, Minnesota. Underneath his Arabic signature was typed "Moammar El-Gadhafi."

    [Emphasis my own]

    The Wikipedia article also notes the difficulty in standardizing Arabic names:

    Because of the lack of standardization of transliterating written- and regionally-pronounced Arabic, Gaddafi's name has been transliterated in many different ways into English and other Latin alphabet languages. Even though the Arabic spelling of a word does not change, the pronunciation may vary in different varieties of Arabic, which may cause a different romanization. In literary Arabic the name معمر القذافي can be pronounced /muˈʕamːaru lqaðˈðaːfiː/. [ʕ] represents a voiced pharyngeal fricative (ع). Geminated consonants can be simplified. In Libyan Arabic, /q/ (ق) may be replaced with [ɡ] or [k] (or even [χ]; and /ð/ (ذ) (as "th" in "this") may be replaced with [d] or [t]. Vowel Robusto often alternates with [o] in pronunciation. Thus, /muˈʕamːar alqaðˈðaːfiː/ is normally pronounced in Libyan Arabic [muˈʕæmːɑrˤ əlɡædˈdæːfi]. The definite article al- (ال) is often omitted.

  • RegDwigнt

    It should be started with Q like Qatar:

    Q قـ
    Qazafi قذافی
    Qatar قطر

    I'm not sure about z/dh/th but doubt that it could be dd.


    Iraq عراق
    Quran قرآن
    Qods(Jerusalem) قدس
    Qiblah قبله

  • Barrie England

    In his Preface to ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’, T E Lawrence robustly defends his inconsistencies in transliteration:

    Arabic names won’t go into English, exactly, for their consonants are not the same as ours, and their vowels, like ours, vary from district to district. There are some ‘scientific systems’ of transliteration, helpful to people who know enough Arabic not to need helping, but a washout for the world. I spell my names anyhow, to show what rot the systems are.

  • T.E.D.

    I've seen this question in other venues too. The proper answer seems to be that the only "correct" way to spell it is to do it in Arabic.

    There isn't a one-to-one mapping between Arabic glyphs and English ones. In fact, they don't even overlap very well at all. To make matters worse, English does not have a one-to-one mapping between its phonemes and its spelling.

    So anybody translating a name between the two has little choice but to try to match phonemes between the two languages as best as possible (sometimes not at all). Then the poor slob has to arbitraily pick an English spelling for their phonemes.

    The only way anybody doing all this could possibly say their result is the one and only correct one, would be if they are the holder of the name in question, and that's what they want others using.

    Note that this same issue goes for any name from a language that doesn't use a Latin alphabet. Most Chineese folks I know just give up and use some short English nickname.

  • Mamta Dalal

    Now that he's dead, this question will gain prominence again. Here's one more link on the ways to spell, along with the explanation, why.