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llama

[ lah-muh ]
/ ˈlɑ mə /
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See synonyms for: llama / llamas on Thesaurus.com

noun
a woolly-haired South American ruminant of the genus Lama, believed to be a domesticated variety of the guanaco: often used as a beast of burden.
the fine, soft fleece of the llama, combined with the wool for coating.
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Origin of llama

1590–1600; <Spanish <Quechua llama (with palatal l)

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH llama

lama, llama
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

LLAMA VS. ALPACA

What’s the difference between llamas and alpacas?

Llamas and alpacas are closely-related animals, and they look similar, but they are two different species.

They have a lot in common. Both the llama and the alpaca are thought to be domesticated varieties of the wild South American animal known as the guanaco. They are both ruminant animals—hoofed, four-legged mammals that eat grass and other plants. And they both belong to the genus Lama and to the family that also includes camels.

So how are they different?

Llamas are bigger. They’re known for their strength, endurance, and high thirst tolerance. For this reason, they’re often used as work animals to carry things over long distances.

Alpacas are smaller, with shorter ears. They are much fluffier than llamas, with fuzzy “bangs” that can partly hide their eyes. Their coats are very soft and silky, and they’re usually raised for their fleece, which is used to make very soft yarn or fabric.

So, the best way to tell the difference is by size and fluffiness. If it looks big and strong, like it can carry a lot of stuff, it’s probably a llama. If it’s smaller and fluffier, and its fleece looks like it could be used to make really soft mittens, it’s probably an alpaca.

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between llamas and alpacas.

Quiz yourself on llamas vs. alpacas!

True or False? 

Llamas and alpacas are completely unrelated. 

How to use llama in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for llama

llama
/ (ˈlɑːmə) /

noun
a domesticated South American cud-chewing mammal, Lama glama (or L. peruana), that is used as a beast of burden and is valued for its hair, flesh, and hide: family Camelidae (camels)
the cloth made from the wool of this animal
any other animal of the genus LamaSee alpaca 1, guanaco

Word Origin for llama

C17: via Spanish from Quechua
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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