We all know what we mean, but we tend to fall into one spelling camp or the other.  In fact it seems that just about everyone is using a correct spelling of the word ‘pyjamas’.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary both ‘pajamas’ and ‘pyjamas’ are correct spellings and we are told the word derives from a Persian word for leg garment.

We all agree that the word refers to loose-fitting clothes worn for sleep, but it seems we are a long way off reaching a universal agreement of the spelling. Generally, ‘pajamas’ is the preferred spelling in American English, whereas ‘pyjamas’ is the more common spelling used in English through out the rest of the world.  However when it comes to the crunch the most confused country is Canada!  Canadians appear to be really inconsistent on the issue, although the use of pyjamas with a ‘y’ is probably slightly more prevalent.

Examples from English speaking countries (excluding USA):

‘I’m a pyjama-clad leaf falling into autumn’s soupy sea of despair’
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia

Three Princesses” lie in bed, all wearing pink pyjamas’ 
Financial Times, United Kingdom

‘Talking about boys in their pyjamas’
Ottowa Citizen, Canada

‘That means a lot of pajama time’
Ottowa Citizen, Canada

Examples from American publications:

‘Nothing better for that than a set of old-school pajama’.

Vanity Fair

‘Teens now routinely venture out of the house wearing pajama bottoms, sweatpants, roomy T-shirts, camisole tops, slippers’ 
Chicago Tribune

‘From palazzo pajamas to wacky sunglasses’ 
Wall Street Journal

The debate will run and run.  Yet the simple fact remains, whether you’re writing in British English, American English, South Asian English, Singaporean English, Australian English or South African English, everyone prefers a particular spelling.  Ultimately, if confusingly, everybody is right, perhaps especially the Ottowa Citizen!

You may prefer to call them jammies or even jim-jams, but here at PJ Pan we are definitely in the pyjamas camp.