Pronunciation of "in situ"

What is with this phrase? It is straight Latin, so shouldn’t it be pronounced in a very regular way? Yet Merriam-Webster can only give this useless guide:

Other dictionaries are no better. It seems that first vowel sound in situ can be pronounced any way you want. Any thoughts on this?

I’ve always heard it pronounced in SIGH too

I suspect that it depends on two things:
(1) whether you generally have the y sound before the letter “u”, e.g. do you pronounce “tune” as “tyoon” or “toon”? (The latter is general in the US, the former is used in the US and other countries).
(2) whether you want to get close to how Latin was pronounced 2,000 years ago, or just want to pronounce Latin words like English words. The Ancient Romans would have pronounced the “i” in “situ” like the “i” in “sit”, not like the “i” in “site”.

I have always heard and used the term like the word situation was cut short.

'French speaker with 3 years of Latin in high school checkin’in.


Based on what I was taught of “classical” Latin pronounciation, as opposed to colloquial latin spoken by Roman rank & file or medieval latin spoken in the church, it would be:

in - more or less as spoken in English today, or a bit more like “eeen”

situ: like “see two”

Hope that helps.

I work in a feild where this phrase comes up in about every third sentence.

I agree with trupa.

in see too, with “in” pronouced like the metal tin.

Yep, trupa and mischievous are correct. Or, as my friends in the UK say, “spot on”, whatever that means.

My (British) dictionary gives as the only pronunciation in sitju:

That is, roughly speaking, “in sit you”.

There should definitely be a “y” sound before the “u”, as in “situation”, like adam yax said. I have never heard it pronounced with a long “i” as in “site”.

I can’t stand the “in see-too” pronunciation. I don’t know why, but it really grates on me.

I pronounce it like “situation” cut short. Sounds much nicer and far less pretentious.

If you are discussing colon cancer, sometimes a little pretension is appreciated.

What really sounds pretentious is the word “debride” pronounced by certain folks such that the second syllable is “breed”.

I’ve never heard it pronounced any other way than like “situation” without the “-ation”.

I had no idea there were so many variations on this pronunciation.

I’ve always pronounced it, and heard it pronounced, “in see-two,” like trupa, mischievous, and vetbridge. I hadn’t thought to pronounce it “SIGH too” or “si-choo” until reading these responses, and looking up the dictionary guides.

Each dictionary seems to have a different preference, too, although most list all three of these (and “si-tyoo” or other variants).

I wonder if these variations are related to different disciplines? I note that the term is frequently used in medicine and biology, as well as in archaeology and art history. I don’t know if there’s a pattern here or not (I’m in art history, for what it’s worth), but a poll might prove interesting.

That’s the only way given at

I’m spending the last 6 months of my PhD training doing in situ hybridizations. Everyone I know in biology, American, English, or other, pronounces it like trupa – een see-two hybridization.

Well, everybody that I know in archaeology pronounces it the other way. And one of them says if somebody doesn’t agree, fuck 'em. I do assure you that he meant that in a humerous way.

Eh, adam, pronunciation must truly be a meme at some level. Like why so many doctors pronounce centimeter “sontimeter”. I didn’t mean my comment in a stuck-up-we’re-right kind of way, I meant it in a only-an-observation kind of way. I know better than to claim that biologists have some sort of natural gift with pronunciation (we are pretty miserable at it – look at what we do to the word apoptosis). Just saying that iif the OP wanted to know because they were in the process of using Sp6 or T3 polymerase to synthesize a digoxygenin-conjugated riboprobe for hybridization to whole mount samples followed with detection by a alkaline phosphatase conjugated antibody and subsequent color reaction with NBT/BCIP to illuminate transcriptional control of a gene, they would want to know how everyone else is going to say it.

It actually came up because it was one of those words that I’ve read but never said, and was unsure of the pronunciation. To avert future embarassment, I looked it up, but was quite annoyed when I didn’t get an authoritative answer. So all the answers here are useful.