Word Confusion: Lama versus Llama

Posted May 28, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Yet again, I find myself in the wrong. Sigh… Turns out that lama is an alternative spelling for llama even though it is rarely used. I’m not sure if I’m trying to justify my preferences or if it truly is something to be weighed.

To my mind, when I read lama, my first thought is the Dalai Lama. I would never think ooh, cute pack animals from the Andes.

Conversely, reading about a llama will never make me wonder if the Chinese have yet allowed the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet. Llamas will always make me think of their cute faces and cozy wool sweaters.

Well, okay, the Dalai Lama does have a cute face…

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Lama Llama
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Image by Minette (Flickr: [1]) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

His Holiness the Dalai Lama


A herd of llamas on a green field

Image by MilborneOne (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ashdown Forest Llama Park in England

Part of Grammar:
Acronym; Noun Noun

Alternative spelling: lama
Scientific name: Lama glama

Acronym:
Laboratory Animal Management Association

Los Angeles Modern Auctions

Noun:
Honorific title applied to a spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism or one who has earned the title in life

Tibetan or Mongolian Buddhist monk

Title for a teacher of the Dharma in Tibetan Buddhism

Lama glama is the scientific name for the llama

Domesticated pack animal of the camel family found in the Andes

  • Wool of the llama
  • Cloth made from the wool of the llama
Examples:
Acronym:
LAMA is an association dedicated to advancing the quality of management and care of laboratory animals throughout the world.

LAMA is the premier auction house for Modern Art, Design and Furniture.

Noun:
The Chinese exiled the Dalai Lama from Tibet in March 1959.

Tibetan Buddhists believe that the Dalai Lama is a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, the enlightened Buddha of compassion.

Llama fiber doesn’t spin easily, but does make fabulous lightweight, warm garments.

In the U.S., many llamas are raised strictly for pleasure.

Llamas are great as pack animals and guards, their hair can be shorn and spun or matted, and their meat can be roasted.

History of the Word:
Mid-17th century from the Tibetan bla-ma with the initial b being silent. It literally means superior one. Early 17th century from the Spanish, probably from Quechua.

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C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?


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