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Everywhere I've checked for pronunciations online it's CO-IT-TUS. Every time I've heard someone use it in real life it's COY-TIS. Since so many people pronounce it in the latter form, does that mean the original pronunciation is "dead"?

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Where did you hear this and where are all these many people? –  coleopterist Mar 4 '13 at 15:48
    
CO-IT-TUS sounds too much like an alarming venereal disease, which could explain the decay of this pronunciation. –  Cris Stringfellow Mar 4 '13 at 15:48
    
OED gives it as /ˈkəʊɪtʌs/ (presumably, OP's first rendering). But the word's not that common, so people who mainly only see it in written form (esp., as coitus interruptus) will tend to use what looks like the more credible coy-tus version. –  FumbleFingers Mar 4 '13 at 15:51
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This is in any standard dictionary, but you need only listen to Dr Sheldon Cooper to assure yourself that coitus is a rhyme for exploit us — and a feminine rhyme, no less. :) –  tchrist Mar 4 '13 at 16:17
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I learned it in grammer school sex education as co-ee-tus - and always thought it appeared in the lyrics to the Eagles' "Hotel California": On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air." lol! ;-) –  Kristina Lopez Mar 4 '13 at 16:46
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closed as general reference by tchrist, aedia λ, Kristina Lopez, Mitch, Robusto Mar 5 '13 at 13:11

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1 Answer

This is one of those cases where both pronunciations are correct. CO-it-tus is indeed the traditional pronunciation, as backed up by OED (see FumbleFingers' comment above). However, COY-tis has become the default pronunciation, probably because of people who see the written form guessing at the pronunciation (as suggested by FumbleFingers again and mplungjan). As both versions are in relatively heavy use (considering how infrequently the word arises), then it seems clear that both versions are currently correct. In a generation, it's quite possible that the CO-it-tus variation will have died out, as you suppose has happened already, but evidence appears to show that it is not the case yet.

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