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Title: Pyjama  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of English words of Persian origin
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


"Pyjama" redirects here. For other meanings of "pyjama" or "pajama" or similar see Pajamas (disambiguation).

Pajamas in US English, spelled pyjamas in British English (see also spelling differences), often shortened to PJs or jammies, can refer to several related types of clothing. The original pāijāma are loose, lightweight trousers fitted with drawstring waistbands and worn in South and West Asia by both sexes.[1] Outside South Asia, especially in English-speaking nations, pajamas are loose-fitting, two-piece garments derived from the original garment and worn chiefly for sleeping,[2] but sometimes also for lounging,[3] also by both sexes.[4] More generally, pajamas may refer to several garments, for both daywear and nightwear, derived from traditional pajamas and involving variations of style and material.

The word pyjama or pajama, which originally derives from the Persian word پايجامه (pāyjāmeh, from pāy 'leg' and jāmeh 'garment'), was incorporated into the English language during the British Raj through the Hindustani language (the progenitor language of modern-day Urdu and Hindi).[5]

Types of pajamas


Traditional pajamas consist of a jacket-and-trousers combination made of soft fabric, such as flannel;[6] The jacket element usually has a placket front and its sleeves have no cuffs.[7] For a number of reasons (increased freedom of movement, aesthetic appeal, etc.) many men opt to sleep or lounge barechested in just the pajama trousers.

In colloquial speech, these traditional pajamas are often called PJs, jim jams, or jammies;[8] while in South Asia and South Africa, they are sometimes referred to as night suits.

Some pajamas feature a drop seat (also known as a trap door or butt flap): a buttoned opening in the seat, designed to allow the wearer to conveniently use a toilet. Drop seats were very common on pajamas made before the 1950s, but today they are rather rare.


Contemporary pajamas are derived from traditional pajamas. There are many variations in style such as short sleeve pajamas,[9] pajama bottoms of varying length,[10] or, on occasion, one-piece pajamas,[11] and pajamas incorporating various materials.

Chiefly in the US, stretch-knit sleep apparel with rib-knit trimmings are common. Usually worn by children, these garments often have pullover tops (if two-piece) or have zippers down the fronts (if one-piece), and may also be footed.

Although pajamas are usually distinguished from non-bifurcated sleeping garments such as nightgowns, in the US, they can sometimes include the latter, as in babydoll pajamas.[12]


Pajamas may today refer to women's combination daywear, consisting of short-sleeved or sleeveless blouses and lightweight trousers. Examples of these include capri pajamas, beach pajamas, and hostess pajamas.[13]


Pajamas are usually loose fitting and designed for comfort, using softer materials such as cotton or the more luxurious silk or satin. Synthetic materials such as polyester and Lycra are also available.

Designs and patterns

Pajamas often contain visual references to a thing that may hold some special appeal to the wearer. Images of sports, animals, balloons, polka dots, flowers, stripes, plaids, foulards, paisleys and other motifs may all be used to decorate them. Pajamas may also be found in plainer designs, such as plaid or plain gray, but when worn in public, they are usually designed in such a way that makes their identity unambiguous. Older styles of children's pajamas have been depicted as having a square button-up flap covering the buttocks.


Pajamas are often worn with bare feet and sometimes without underwear. They are often worn as comfort wear even when not in bed, and are also sometimes worn as a fashion statement. Some people have started to wear pajama pants in public as fashion.[14] In eastern China, it is not unusual in the late afternoon or evening, for adults to wear their pajamas in public around their local neighborhood.[15] The supermarket Tesco in St Mellons, Cardiff, United Kingdom started a ban on customers wearing pajamas in January 2010.[16] In January 2012, a local Dublin branch of the Government's Department of Social Protection advised that pajamas were not regarded as appropriate attire when attending the office for welfare services.[17]


The word pajama was incorporated into the English language from Persian via Urdu. The word originally derives from Persian پايجامه pāyjāmeh meaning 'leg garment'.

The worldwide use of pajamas (the word and the garment) is the result of British presence in South Asia in the 18th and 19th centuries.[18] According to Yule and Burnell's Hobson-Jobson (1903)[19] the word originally referred to loose trousers tied around the waist. Template:Cquote

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, "They were introduced in England as lounging attire in the 17th century but soon went out of fashion. About 1870 they reappeared in the Western world as sleeping attire for men, after returning British colonials brought (them) back ...."[20] As sleeping attire, they adapted the pajama pant to come without pockets, since pockets are only necessary for daywear. However, pajama pockets came back into fashion in the 2000s, due to their usefulness in carrying personal items such as tissues or mobile telephones.

Wearing pajamas in public

In January 2012, Michael Williams, a commissioner in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, proposed an ordinance prohibiting people from wearing pajamas in public. Caddo Parish already has a law against wearing sagging pants below the waist, but Williams is pushing for a law against pajama pants after seeing a group of young men wearing loose fitting pajama pants that were about to show their private parts. According to Williams, "The moral fiber in our community is dwindling. If not now, when? Because it's pajama pants today, next it will be underwear tomorrow.” [21][22]

Williams’ concerns are reflected in many school and work dress codes. A Vermont high school banned pajamas in 2011, concerned that they could be a safety hazard.[23]

References in popular culture

  • Author Lucy Maud Montgomery, touches upon how pajamas were viewed by the Canadian provincial culture in her 1931 novel, A Tangled Web: "The night before, as he was sitting on his bed, studying if there were any way to wheedle the secret out of Dandy Dark, he had absently put both feet into one pyjama leg. Then when he stood up he fell on the floor in what his terrified wife at first thought was a fit. Very few of the clan sympathized with him as to his resulting shoulder. They thought it served him right for wearing new-fangled duds. If he had had a proper nightshirt on it couldn't have happened."[24]
  • The Pajama Game was a Broadway musical and film highlighting workers at a pajama factory.
  • Pajamas played a prominent role on a popular kids television show known as Bananas in Pyjamas. The show detailed the adventures of two bananas while wearing their pajamas.
  • Pajamas Media is an online advertising and publishing company created by bloggers Roger L. Simon and Charles Johnson. The term derives from CNN president Jonathan Klein's 2004 dismissal of bloggers as "a guy sitting in his living room in his pyjamas.".[25]
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a 2006 novel about a Jewish boy in a concentration camp, written from the perspective of an innocent son of the camp's commander who befriends him. The commander's son at first believes that the Jew's striped clothes are pajamas, hence the name of the book.


See also


External links

  • Gao Yubin, New York Times. May 14, 2010. Accessed May 18, 2010.

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