when in Rome, do as the Romans do

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Alternative forms[edit]


The first attestation is Medieval Latin si fueris Rōmae, Rōmānō vīvitō mōre; si fueris alibī, vīvitō sīcut ibī (if you should be in Rome, live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they do there), which is attributed to St Ambrose.

Robert Burton in his Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) uses the phrase “When they are at Rome, they doe there as they see done.”[1]


when in Rome, do as the Romans do

  1. (strictly) When in a foreign place, suit behavior or appearance to the local culture.
  2. (loosely, idiomatic) Adapt to the circumstances; follow common custom.


For quotations using this term, see Citations:when in Rome, do as the Romans do.




  1. ^ Democritus Junier [i.e. Robert Burton] (1621) The Anatomy of Melancholy, What it is: With All the Kindes, Causes, Symptomes, Prognostickes, and Severall Cures of it, Oxford: Henry Cripps, part. 3, sec. 4, memb. 1, subs. 3, page 768
  • Seferyan, S. S.; Hovhannisyan, L. V.; Lazaryan, A. A. (1986) Angleren-hayeren darjvacabanakan baṙaran [English–Armenian Phraseological Dictionary], Yerevan: University Press, page 179