The Meaning of In Situ: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of in situ? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word in situ, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word in situ mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word in situ is a Latin phrase which means that something remains in place while something is done to it. This term can be used as an adverb or adjective. In situ is three syllables – in-si-tu, and the pronunciation of in situ is ɪn sɪtu.

According to Very Well Health, his term is often used in the medical field and pathology. In surgery and for surgeons, in situ means visualizing the tissue in question in the human body by creating an incision to allow the tissue to be visually examined. While surgery is the best way for a surgeon to visualize tissues, medical professionals can also use CT scans and MRI scans which show the locations of organs, but not tissue. In cancer diagnosis and treatment, the term in situ is a good thing. This means that the cancer has remained in its original place and has not spread or metastasized!If a tumour has not spread to nearby tissues, there is a better chance of treating it. For example, an in situ carcinoma or ductal carcinoma has not invaded beyond the basement membrane. Archaeologists and people in the field of geology can also use this term – for example, if a vase is found in situ, this means that it is untouched and in good condition. The term in situ can also be used in different contexts like conservation biology, in which it describes natural environments that remain untouched or in their original condition. This term can also be used in physics, computer science and chemistry, as well as other scientific fields to describe something that is in its natural place or the normal state of a system when it comes to user interfaces or a particular user action. Construction workers or people working in civil engineering can even use in situ techniques for concrete pouring.

Many different languages also contain words that mean in situ (adj./adv.), which means still or remaining in place. In this list of translations from Word Sense, you may notice that some of these translations of in situ look and sound similar. These are called cognates, which are words in different languages that look, sound, and mean something similar. These types of words are usually formed when the two words or languages have the same root or language of origin. 

  •  Norwegian: stille‎
  •  Russian: неподви́жный‎
  •  Czech: stálý‎
  •  Hungarian: nyugodt‎, csendes‎, mozdulatlan‎
  •  Thai: นิ่ง‎
  •  Maori: piropiro‎ (of water), whakaroau‎
  •  Portuguese: imóvel‎ (masc.), parado‎
  •  Luxembourgish: stëll‎
  •  Polish: nieruchomy‎
  •  Japanese: (general) 止まる‎, (formal) 静止した‎ (sēshi shita)
  •  Venetian: cet‎
  •  Spanish: quieto‎ (masc.), quieta‎ (fem.)
  •  Dutch: stil‎
  •  Finnish: liikkumaton‎
  •  German: still‎
  •  Macedonian: мирен‎ (míren)
  •  Armenian: անշարժ‎
  •  French: calme‎, immobile‎
  •  Swedish: stilla‎
  •  Estonian: paigal‎
  •  Catalan: quiet‎
  •  Serbo-Croatian: nepomično‎
  •  Persian: آرام‎ (ārām)

What are synonyms and antonyms of in situ?

There are many different words that have an equivalent meaning to the word in situ. These are called synonyms. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your English language vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself in spoken and written English .This list of synonyms of in situ is provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  here
  •  in order
  •  as originally placed
  •  in their locations
  •  at grassroots level
  •  intact
  •  at grass-roots level
  •  at the site
  •  ready
  •  field visits
  •  whole
  •  into position
  •  topical
  •  set up
  •  in situ visits
  •  whereabouts
  •  at the seat
  •  on-site visits
  •  in the field
  •  okay
  •  as originally positioned
  •  sur place
  •  passim
  •  at the coalface
  •  ok
  •  lotus
  •  out on-the-spot
  •  all right
  •  secure
  •  at field
  •  at first hand
  •  at the scene
  •  as placed
  •  there
  •  at grass roots level
  •  indwelling
  •  hereabouts
  •  in the website
  •  local
  •  at their locations
  •  at the place
  •  sitting
  •  sedentary
  •  in a site
  •  at site
  •  site visits
  •  solid
  •  situated
  •  over nature
  •  deskbound
  •  desk
  •  loco
  •  in location
  •  place
  •  in the elevation
  •  unmoved
  •  all set
  •  undisturbed
  •  at the field level
  •  untouched
  •  in position
  •  undamaged
  •  ex situ
  •  in place
  •  field visit
  •  at location
  •  thereabouts
  •  naturally positioned

There are also numerous different words that have the opposite meaning of the word in situ. These opposite words are called antonyms. Memorizing antonyms is another quick and easy way to expand your English vocabulary. This list of antonyms of in situ is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  initiated
  •  working
  •  ongoing
  •  be on the move
  •  running
  •  headed
  •  under way
  •  in motion
  •  pointed toward
  •  ascending
  •  on the journey
  •  afoot
  •  on the way to
  •  astir
  •  en route
  •  circulatory
  •  at work
  •  been set in motion
  •  going
  •  be in action
  •  in progress
  •  in action
  •  in process
  •  operating
  •  abroach
  •  started
  •  already in motion
  •  moving
  •  all moving
  •  mobile
  •  in place
  •  back into action
  •  coming on stream
  •  as i go
  •  during transport
  •  current
  •  unstable
  •  on the road
  •  begun
  •  shifting
  •  slated for
  •  on the move
  •  operational
  •  on the go
  •  underway
  •  in transit
  •  active
  •  a-going
  •  aimed
  •  motile
  •  directed

Overall, the word in situ is a term means situated in place, esp of a cancerous growth. This word is Latin in origin and means that something is still, unmoving, or remaining in the same place. This word can be used in a variety of scientific fields such as civil engineering, biology, conservation, physics, chemistry, computer science, and more. However, it is most commonly used in the medical field to describe cancerous growths which have not metastasized.


  1. in situ: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. In Situ synonyms – 68 Words and Phrases for In Situ | Power Thesaurus 
  3. In Situ antonyms – 25 Opposites of In Situ | Power Thesaurus 
  4. In situ definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  5. How in Situ Is Used During Surgery and Cancer Treatment | Very Well Health