marijuana v. marihuana

Most people I know spell marijuana with a “j”. Some attorneys spell it marihuana.

Which is more correct? Why the “H” instead of the “J”.


That’s crazy Yo! indicates “j” is more common. The “h” is an acceptable variation. Neither is wrong.

Why two spellings? In the case of “marijuana,” people were too stoned to know the difference.

No – it’s just that new terms entering the language from other language occasionally have more than one spelling.

I’ve mainly seen “marihuana” in older works. So, (and I don’t have any evidence for this), it’s possible that “marajuana” is the original Mexican Spanish word for the plant, and when it started to be widely used here as a drug, the word was Anglicized to marihuana? Then, more recently, we went back to the spanish spelling.

It’s not unique to “marijuana”. Other Spanish words are sometimes transliterated into English with h instead of j - you will commonly order “heuvos rancheros” in a resturaunt. “jeuvos” is another acceptable spelling. It’s probably simply an attempt to Anglicize the word with a spelling closer to the pronunciation, though why “wh” isn’t inserted in that case I don’t know.

Many of us use another alternate spelling: huevos.

Duh. Whoops. Sorry about that.

Actually, that means I have GOT to stop using a google search and a quick scan of the resultant pages as a spell checker.

Thats what I would have thought, however, my spanish book lists “la marihuana” as the spanish spelling .

There is no Spanish word “juevos.” It is, and always has been, “huevos.”

Huevos = eggs in Spanish.

Mari Juana = Mary Jane in Spanish

The origin of the English name has been discussed before and a search should reveal it. IIRC, the name is not really of Mexican origin but the US authorities a few decades ago (War on Drugs #1) wanted to associate the weed with something negative, like Mexicans and so came up with that name.

Interesting discussion.

I would be shocked to find out that US officials named it to associate it with Mexicans “to be negative”. That’s too bad if that is true.

I wonder why the attorneys mostly use the “h” spelling and the “common man” uses the “j” spelling.

It’s always made me ponder…!!!


It’s true, chakotay2. The government knew trying to make “hemp” illegal would never fly, as everyone associated it with uses like rope, sails, fabric, paper, etc.

The original Spanish word was “mariguana” which meant rough tobacco, but somewhere along the line that word became (con)fused with the brand of Mexican cigarettes “Maria Juana”, resulting in the common spelling “marijuana”.

When anti-cannabis propaganda first appeared in US newspapers is was spelt “marihuana” which is also the way it is spelt in the act outlawing cannabis - “The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937” - that’s why attorneys spell it with an “h”, but the everyday spelling tends to be with a “j”.

US authorities did name it marihuana to connect it with Mexicans, but they only took an existing slang term for cannabis and Anglicized it.