Pajamas vs. pyjamas

Pajamas and pyjamas both refer to loose-fitting clothes worn for sleep. Pajamas is the preferred spelling in American English, while pyjamas is preferred in the main varieties of English from outside North America. Canadian usage in this century is inconsistent, though pyjamas appears to have the edge.


Outside the U.S.

Munshaw-Luhar says the shops also stock sherwani suits and kurta pyjamas for men and expensive wedding outfits. [Sydney Morning Herald]

What I always do is to retire to the bedroom and change into my pyjamas. [Financial Times]

Padding around the house in pyjamas and bunny slippers won’t do your sexual relationship any favours either. [Ottawa Citizen]


He’s wearing red silk pajamas, a black smoking jacket, black slippers, white socks. [Vanity Fair]

The nightwear comes in a handful of styles and colors and includes nightgowns and pajamas. [Chicago Tribune]

Many wore pajamas, masks or wigs. [Wall Street Journal]

19 thoughts on “Pajamas vs. pyjamas”

  1. In Canada, we usually spell it pyjamas, but some stores spell it pajamas, in fact I saw both spellings at the same store! One said “Spider-Man pyjamas” $12.50, but on another flyer, “family guy pajamas pants” $17.49

  2. I bet it is “pajamas” in US spelling because so many people mispelled it – when it is said quickly it does sound like “pa”.

  3. ‘Murican English is very easy. Everyone else has way too many rules on their grammar. Oh and I spell it pajamas. How else are you supposed to pronounce it without an “A” sound? Is it Peejamas for pronouncing it?

  4. The ‘y’ in pyjamas sounds like a short ‘i’, just like in “pip” or “pill”. The word was never supposed to have any kind of ‘a’ sound after the ‘p’. I’m only here because I saw an advert for the play “Pajama Game”, and its spelling annoyed me (I won’t be seeing it).

  5. Why is every source on this difference so infuriating? T_T The wikipedia entry for this word is maddening, and bounces between the two spellings without any sense of logic or consistency to it, even while talking about the origin of the word. It’s universally clear that the ‘pajama’ spelling is the more accurate if one were to import the word today (based on how we would spell the foreign word), and every line about the origin refers to ‘paijama’ or ‘pajama’.

    Even more infuriating, complete sentences are written that the word “pajama” was borrowed from the foreign word “pajama” by the British during their presence in the region. And then goes on to say the British use the spelling “pyjama”? Who’s writing all this painful-to-comprehend crap? Is this all one big etymologist’s troll?

    ┻━┻ ︵ヽ(`Д´)ノ︵ ┻━┻

    Did the British originally import “pajama” and then change it to “pyjama”? It wouldn’t be the first time the British changed one of their own spellings for no apparent reason. Where are the references to the earliest recorded usage of each spelling in the west? Where’s the point of deviation? Why is this the worst-documented spelling variance I’ve ever seen?

  6. I am a 28 year old American. For the first time in my life today I saw the spelling “pyjamas”… i think it’s atrocious… i really don’t mind some British spellings, but when you have things like “tyre” it just looks ugly and unintelligent to me, just being honest, what do you care what i think anyway, regardless i feel like this spelling looks like a portmanteau of “pajamas” with “pygmy”…. like with a meaning “pajamas for pygmy people”

  7. I live in Australia and we spell it Pyjamas. I was reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire just then when the spelling of Pyjamas was spelt ‘pajamas.’ I read over the word a few times when I thought to myself that all this time I’ve been spelling pyjamas wrong. But no I haven’t. It’s says that people outside U.S. spells it Pyjamas, but I don’t understand how J.K. Rowling could spell it ‘pajamas’ when she’s British. Anyway I think It must be the publishers, I think I’m reading the book by a U.S. publisher. But that’s all. These spellings really annoy and terrify me.

  8. The etymology of the word is Persian/Urdu “Pay” + “jama” meaning “leg clothing”. Therefore, “pajama” is more correct.

    • Considering the word ‘pyjamas’ was incorporated into the ‘English’
      language by the British. Who loaned the word from India, where it is
      prounounced pye-jama and spelt ‘pyjama’ in indian english. Pajama is
      incorrect. :)


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