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When using vice versa in spoken English, I tend to just completely Anglicise it and pronounce it vise VER-ser, with only one syllable in vice.

The original would be something like VEE-cay VER-sa, but I often hear people use a hybrid pronunciation more like VY-ser VER-ser, with two syllables in each word.

Which is the "correct" way to say it?

French loan phrases seem to stay fairly true to the original pronunciation, e.g. déjà vu doesn't become dedger-view and je ne sais quoi isn't juh nee sayz kwoy.
So should vice versa be pronounced true to the original?

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Uh. The Italian pronunciation is about as close to the original as the English one. –  RegDwigнt Jan 15 '13 at 12:28
@RegDwighт Sorry, I meant Latin. –  Widor Jan 15 '13 at 12:30
What’s with the v sound and soft c? Those were not there in Latin. Was more like /wike we:rsa/. –  tchrist Jan 15 '13 at 12:34
The question of “How should an English-speaker pronounce. . . ?” is fundamentally unanswerable. All you can ask is how English-speakers do pronounce something or other. –  tchrist Jan 15 '13 at 12:45

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Vice versa should be pronounced as /ˌvaɪs ˈvɜːsə/ or /ˌvaɪsi ˈvɜːsə/ in British English and /ˌvaɪs ˈvɜːrsə/ or /ˌvaɪsi ˈvɜːrsə/ in American English.

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OED has /ˈvaɪsiː ˈvɜːsə/ [different stress from OALD] which I have never heard. I've always heard (and used) a schwa where vice has two syllables: /vaɪsə/. And I would have upvoted @Arch's answer because of that, but he deleted it. –  Andrew Leach Jan 15 '13 at 12:38
I think the question is actually, "So should vice versa be pronounced true to the original?" –  Kris Jan 15 '13 at 12:42
@Kris: I hope not, since there really is no 'original' pronunciation. Ciceronian? Silver Age? Mediaeval? Papal? –  TimLymington Jan 15 '13 at 12:45
@TimLymington Which makes the assumption "The original would be something like VEE-cay VER-sa", and thence the very question, what? –  Kris Jan 15 '13 at 12:48
@Kris No, the original would be WEE-kay WER-sa, which I certainly wouldn't advocate. –  Andrew Leach Jan 15 '13 at 13:45

In the middle of the twentieth century, a working class Australian would have pronounced it vicky verser because that would show (proudly) that he knew no Latin and had little regard for the snobs who did.

In fact, using the expression at all would have been a reluctant concession to polite society. The preferred form amongst his workmates would have been and arse about face.

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