Response to sneezing

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In English-speaking countries, the common verbal response to another person's sneeze is "bless you", or, less commonly in the United States and Canada, "Gesundheit", the German word for health (and the response to sneezing in German-speaking countries). There are several proposed bless-you origins for use in the context of sneezing.

In non-English-speaking cultures, words connoting good health or a long life are often used instead of "bless you," though some also use references to God.

In some Asian cultures such as Korean and Japanese cultures, the practice of responding to another person's sneeze does not exist.

List of responses in other languages[edit]

Language Usual responses and notes Response meaning in English Sneezer reply and pronunciation Reply meaning in English
Albanian Shëndet (shuhn-det) "Health!" Faleminderit "Thank you"
Shëndet paç "May you have health"
Amharic ይማርሽ (yimarish) for female
ይማርህ (yimarih) for male
"May God forgive you!" ያኑሪሽ (yanurish) for female
ያኑርህ (yanurih) for male
"May you live for long."
Afrikaans Gesondheid "Health!" Dankie "Thank you"
Arabic صحة (ṣaḥḥa).

فرج (faraj) or الله فرجك (allāh farajak (m.), allāh farajik (f.))

نشوة (nashwa).

يرحمكم الله (yaḥarmakum allāh) if the sneezer says الحمدلله (al‐ḥamdulila̅h), as an alternative/religious interaction.

"Well-being!", "Health!"

"Relief!", or "God give you relief!"

"Elation!", or "Thrill!"

"God have mercy on you" if the sneezer says "All praise is for God."

علينا و عليك (ʿalayna̅ wa‐ʿalayk), شكراً (shukran), or يهديكم الله و يصلح بالكم (yahdīkum alla̅h wa‐yuṣlaḥ ba̅lakum) after the alternative interaction "For you and me", "Thank you!" or "God guide you and set your affairs aright."
Armenian առողջություն (aroghjootyoon) "Health" շնորհակալություն (shnorhakalutyun) "Thank you"
Assamese মঙ্গল হওক (môngôl hôwk) "May good happen." Unknown
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic shemad alaha "In God's name"
Azeri Sağlam ol, or sometimes Afiat (see Persian) "Be healthy." Sağ ol "Thank you"
Bangla [Bangladesh] Alhamdulillah (আল্লাহ তোমার উপর রহম দান করুন) "May God have mercy on you" "Silence"
[India] Jibah Jibah (জীবঃ জীবঃ) "May you live long"
Basque Doministiku, from Latin dominus tecum "The Lord be with you." Unknown
Bavarian Hejf da God. "May God help you." Dånk da sche. "Thank you."
Gsundheid! "Health!"
Belarusian будзь здаровы (Budz zdarovy) for both genders "Be healthy" дзякуй (dziakuj) "Thank you"
будзь здароў (budz zdarou) for male
будзь здаровая (Budz zdarovaja) for female
Bosnian Nazdravlje "To your good health." Hvala "Thank you"
Breton Doue d'ho pennigo. "God will bless you."
Bulgarian Наздраве (Nazdrave) "To your health" or "Cheers" Благодаря (Blagodarya) "Thank you."
Burmese Ta Baw Pout Pi Lar? "Understood?" or "Got it?" Hote, Pout Pi "Yes or No."
Khmer សុខភាព (sokhpheap) "Health" Unknown
Catalan Jesús or Salut "Jesus." or "Health!" Gràcies "Thank you"
Cantonese 大吉利事 or 好嘅. Sneezing in Southern Chinese culture means that someone is speaking ill behind your back. "A great fortunate occurrence." / "A good one." 唔好意思 "Excuse me."
Chechen Dukha vekhil for male or Dukha yekhil for female "Live for a long time." Dela reze hiyla "Thank you", literally means "I wish God will bless you".
Chinese Chinese speakers do not typically comment on another person's sneeze. When someone does give a response, he or she might say 百岁 (bǎisuì).

More rarely there is the expression 多保重 (duōbǎozhòng)多喝点水 (duō he dian shui)

"(live to) 100 years old"

"Take care", "Drink more water" .

不好意思 (bùhǎoyìsi) "Excuse me."
Croatian Nazdravlje or Istina! "To your health." or "Truth!" Hvala "Thank you"
Czech Na zdraví or Pozdrav Pánbůh or Je to pravda "To your health." or "Bless God." or "It is true." Ať slouží or Dejž to Pánbůh (in reply to Pozdrav Pánbůh) "May it last." or "May God let it happen (bless you)"
Danish Prosit From Latin, prōsit. (“may it be good”) (to your health)[notes 1] Tak "Thank you"
Dutch Gezondheid, or if the person has sneezed three times, (Drie keer) morgen mooi weer "Health!", the equivalent of respectively "Gesundheit" as said in English, or if the person has sneezed three times, "(Three times) the weather will be nice tomorrow." Dank u (wel) formally, or Dank je (wel) "Thank you"
English God bless you , Bless you, or Gesundheit (mainly Midwestern US) Thank you
Esperanto Sanon "Health!" Dankon "Thank you"
Estonian Terviseks "For your health." Aitäh "Thank you"
Faroese Jesuspápi vælsigni teg! This can be shortened to Vælsigni teg! "May Jesus bless you." or "Bless you." Takk (fyri)! "Thanks (for [it])!"
Finnish Terveydeksi "For health!" Kiitos "Thank you"
French à tes / vos souhaits or Santé

Old-fashioned: à tes / vos amours after the second sneeze, and qu'elles durent toujours after the third. More archaically, one can say Que Dieu te/vous bénisse.

"To your wishes" or "health". Old-fashioned: after the second sneeze, "to your loves," and after the third, "may they last forever." More archaically, the translation is "God bless you". Merci or Merci, que les tiennes durent toujours (old-fashioned) after the second sneeze "Thank you" or "Thanks, may yours last forever" after the second sneeze
Georgian იცოცხლე (itsotskhle) "Live long." გმადლობთ (gmadlobt) "Thank you"
German Gesundheit! "Health!" (in the meaning of I wish you good health or I wish that you don't get sick) Danke (schön) "Thank you (very much)."
Helf Gott!/Helfgott!/Helf dir Gott! (Southern Germany/Austria/Transylvanian-Saxon; archaic/mostly used by more or less religious elderly)[1][2]

Gott helfe[3]

"May God help you!"
Großwachsen! (Transylvanian-Saxon; from Romanian "Să creşti mare!"; used solely for children, usually after the usual "Gesundheit" for the first and/or second response)[4] "You shall grow tall!"
Zum Wohl! (Southern Germany/Austria)[5] "To your well-being!"
Greek γείτσες (gítses) or στην υγεία σου (stin igía su) "Healths!" or "To your health!" Ευχαριστώ (Efharistó) "Thank You"
Gujarati Ghanu Jivo "May God bless you with a long life." Aabhar "Thank you"
Hawaiian Kihe, a mauli ola, or simply Ola "Sneeze, and you shall live", or simply "live" Mahalo "Thank you"
Hebrew לבריאות (livri'oot or labri'oot) "To health!" תודה (todah) "Thank you!"
Hindi शतम् जीवः (Shatam Jeevah), "चिरञ्जीवी भव" "Live 100 years", "May you live long" "धन्यवादः, धन्यवादाः (Dhanyavaadah, Dhanyavaadaah)" "Thanks"
Hungarian Egészségedre! (If a person sneezes while another is speaking, Hungarians also say sometimes "Igaz" confirming that the person who was just speaking was telling the truth) "To your health!"

("True")

Köszönöm "Thank you"
Igbo Ndo "Sorry." Daalu "Thank you"
Icelandic Guð hjálpi þér! to first sneeze, styrki þig to second sneeze, og styðji to third sneeze.[6] This can be shortened to Hjálpi þér. "God help you!" to first sneeze, "strengthen you" to second sneeze, "and support." to third sneeze. This can be shortened to "Bless you." Þökk fyrir "Thank you"
Indonesian Tuhan berkati "God bless." Terima Kasih "Thank you"
Irish Dia linn or Dia leat or Deiseal, which may be a form of Dia seal The first two both mean "God be with us." The last means "May it go right," but might be a form of "God with us for a while." gabh mo leithscéal "Excuse me."
Italian Salute! "Health!" Grazie "Thank you"
(ironic) Che se ne va "That is going away"
Japanese 大丈夫? (Daijyoubu?)

Note: It is very rare for anyone to acknowledge a sneeze in Japan, and it is customary not to say anything at all. After multiple sneezes, they use these words.

"Are you all right?" すみません (sumimasen) or 失礼しました (shitsurei shimashita) "Sorry." or "Excuse me."
Kannada ಶತಾಯುಸ್ಸು if the sneezer is young. Otherwise The sneezer takes the name of the lord "Long Life" Literally "A Hundred Years" Note: It is very rare for anyone to acknowledge an adult sneezing, and it is customary not to say anything at all.
Kazakh Сау Болыңыз (Saw Bolıñız) "Be healthy." Рахмет! "Thank you!"
Khmer ស្បើយ (S'baoi) "Fast recovery." សាធុ (Satu) "Amen"
Kirundi Kira "Be healthy." Twese "Us all."
Kinyarwanda Urakire "May you be healthy." Twese "Us all."
Korean The practice of responding to someone's sneeze is rare. However the sneezer may comment on his/her own sneeze with 개치네쒜(gae-chi-ne-sswe)[7] or 에이쒜(e-i-sswe).[8] These may be based on an onomatopœia of the sound of a sneeze. Believed to chase away the cold if spoken after the sneeze.
Kurdish Kher be inshalla. Many times when one sneezes, they say that the thing they are about to do will not happen. So, a listener says Kher be. "It will be a good thing, God willing," or the shorter version, "A good sign hopefully." Unknown
Kyrgyz Ак чүч! [aqˈt͡ʃut͡ʃ]. This may be based on an onomatopœia of the sound of a sneeze, like the English "Atchoo." Рахмат, if the person who spoke after the sneeze is liked. "Thank you."
Ladino Vivas, Crezcas after a second sneeze, Enflorezcas after third sneeze "May you live" after first sneeze, "May you grow" after a second sneeze, "May you flourish" after third sneeze. Unknown
Latgalian Veseleibā "To your health." Paldis "Thank you"
Latvian Uz veselību "To your health." Paldies "Thank you."
Lithuanian Į sveikatą {pronounced 'EE sweh kata'} [9] "To your health." Says Atsiprašau immediately; responds to a responder with Ačiū. Says "Excuse me" immediately; responds to a responder with "Thank you."
Lojban No set phrase, but one commonly says kanro .a'o (kanro aho) or .a'o do kanro. "[hopefully] Health!" or "[said with hope] You are healthy," respectively. Unknown
Luganda Bbuka "Recover." Unknown
Luxembourgish Gesondheet "Health!" Merci "Thank you"
Macedonian На здравје (na zdravye) "To your health." Здравје да имаш (zdravye da imash) or Благодарам(blagodaram) or Фала (fala) "Have health yourself." or "Thank you." or "Thanks."
Malayalam Depending on the religion, one would say Hari Krishna (ഹരി കൃഷ്ണാ ) or Eesho rakshikka (ഈശോ രക്ഷിക്ക) Let Lord Krishna bless you or Jesus save you നന്ദി Thanks
Maltese Evviva "May he/she live." An alternate translation is "Long live _____." Grazzi "Thank you"
Marathi सत्य आहे "It's the Truth" Unknown
Mongolian Бурхан өршөө (Burkhan örshöö) "May God forgive you." Unknown
Navajo T'áá bí ání

or Háíshį́į́ naa ntsékees / naa yáłti'

"That/the one said it" (lit. "S/he in particular said it") or "Someone is thinking of you / talking about you" 'Aoo' t'áá bí ání (in response to "Someone is thinking / talking about you") "Yes, that/the one said it"
Nepali चिरञ्जीवी भव (Chiranjeevi Bhawa) "May you live long." धन्यवाद (Dhan-ya-bad) "Thank you"
Norwegian Prosit From Latin, prōsit. “Måtte det gagne deg” (“may it be good”) (to your health)[notes 2] Takk "Thank you"
Afaan Oromo Gudadhu Huddu Sarre Dhungadhu "Progress." Galatoomi "Thank you"
Pashto صبر (Sah-bur). "Patience" مننه (Mah-nah-nah). "Thank you"
Persian عافیت باشه (Afiat Basheh). "May Cleanliness/Purity be bestowed upon you," or "may it be for your health." The sneezer will often say سلامت باشید (Salaamat Bashid). The sneezer will say "Be healthy."
Polish Na zdrowie! or Sto lat! or Zdrówko! (a diminutive form of "zdrowie" – health). Sometimes Prawda!. "To your health!" or "Live a hundred years!" or "[To your] health!". Sometimes "Truth!", indicating the sneeze means something the sneezer had said before is true. Dziękuję / Dzięki. Thank you / Thanks.
Portuguese Saúde or Deus te crie or Deus te guarde or Santinho! These mean, in order: "Health" or "May God raise you" or "May God keep you covered (as in warm and covered)" or "Little Saint!" obrigado/a or Amém "Thank you" or "Amen"
Punjabi ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ (Waheguru) or ਤੇਰਾ ਭਲਾ ਹੋਵੇ! "Glorious Lord" or "May you be blessed," respectively. Thanvaad "Thank you"
Romanian 1) Sănătate/Să fii sănătos/Să fii sănătoasă or Noroc

2) Să crești mare! (for children; usually "Noroc" comes first, then "Sănătate" and, as a third option, "Să crești mare!")[10]

1) "Health/Be healthy (addressed to him/her)" or "To your luck," respectively.

2) "May you grow up!"

Mulțumesc "Thank you"
Russian будь здоров (BООD' zdoh-RO-f) to an informal male sneezer, будь здорова (BООD' zdoh-RO-va) to an informal female sneezer, or будьте здоровы (BООD'-te zdoh-RO-vyy) to a formal sneezer. Правда (pra-vda) if person sneezes while another person is speaking to 'confirm' that they are telling the truth. "Be healthy." "It is true." спасибо (spa-SEE-ba) "Thank you"
Serbian 1) Наздравље (Nazdravie)

2) Pis Maco mostly used with children

1) "To your health."

2) "go away kitten" as sound of sneezing often sounds like cat's cough

Хвала or less frequently Истина or Здравље да имаш. "Thank you," or less frequently "It is true" or "Health you have".
Sinhala ආයුබෝවන් (Ayubowan) "Have a long life." Thank you "Thank you"
Slovak Na zdravie "To your health." Ďakujem "Thank you"
Slovenian Na zdravje, Res je or the old-fashioned Bog pomagaj "To your health," "it is true" or "God help to you." Folk belief has it that a sneeze, which is involuntary, proves the truth of whatever was said just prior to it. Hvala "Thank you"
Spanish In Latin America, Salud, or Dios te bendiga. In Spain, it can also be Jesús after the first, María after the second and y José after the third, while in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela, Colombia and Argentina, it's replaced by salud after the first, dinero after the second and amor after the third. "To your health", "Jesus", or "God bless you", or "Jesus" after the first, "Mary" after the second and "and Joseph" after the third in Spain, while in Latin America, they say health, money and love. Gracias "Thank you"
Kiswahili Afya or often, no response "Health" Asante "Thank you"
Swedish Prosit[11][notes 3] From Latin, prōsit. “Må det vara till gagn” Tack "Thank you"
Tamil ஆயுசு நூறு (aa-yu-su noo-ru)/ஆயுள் நூறு (aa-yul noo-ru) or நீடு வாழ்க (nee-du vaal-ka)

Also, Dheergayusu, Poornayusu, Sadayusu

"100 year-long life" or "Live long"

Different variations of long life after consecutive sneezes., "Live long"

நன்றி (nan-dri) "Thank you"
Telugu Chiranjeevi bhava/Chiranjeeva or Nurella ayusshu or దీర్ఘాయుష్మాన్ భవ "May you be blessed with a life without death," or "may you live long." Or “may you have 100 years of whole life” "ధన్యవాద" or smile "Thank you"
Turkish Çok yaşa followed by İyi yaşa if a second sneeze occurs "Live long, live good." Sen de gör or Hep beraber or 'Siz de görün "And I hope that you live to see it [my long life]," or "All together" or "And may you witness it [my long life]," respectively.
Ukrainian будь здоровий (BООD' zdoh-RO-vyy) to an informal male sneezer, будь здорова (BООD' zdoh-RO-va) to an informal female sneezer, or будьте здорові (BООD'-te zdoh-RO-vee) to a formal sneezer. На здоров'я! (na zdoh-RO-v-ia). Правда (pra-vda) if person sneezes while other person's speech. "Be healthy." "To your health!" "It is true." дякую (DIA-koo-you) "Thank you."
Urdu yar-hum-o-kullah (First the person who sneezed says "Alhamdulillah," i.e. praise be to God) "May God have mercy on you." Yah-de-kum-ullah "May God guide you to the right path."
Uzbek Sogʻ boʻling or Salomat boʻling "Be healthy." Rahmat "Thank you"
Vietnamese Cơm muối. In Vietnamese culture, the custom of responding to someone's sneeze is not too popular nowadays. "Rice with salt." Cảm ơn/Cám ơn "Thank you"
Welsh Bendith or Bendith [Duw] arnat ti (familiar) or Bendith [Duw] arnoch chi (respectful) "[God's] blessing on you." Diolch "Thank You"
Yiddish זײַ געזונט (zay gezunt), or צו געזונט (tzu gezunt) after a second sneeze. Another response among Yiddish and Hebrew speaking Jews is אסותא (asute), from Aramaic. Many also use German Gesundheit[12]. "Be healthy," "to health," "health," and "health" respectively. A sneezer responds to his or her own sneeze with חיים (chaim) in another Jewish custom. "Life."
Yoruba Pẹ̀lẹ́ (kpeh-leh) "Sorry" O ṣé (oh shay, informal), Ẹ ṣé (eh shay, formal) "Thank you"

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Duden (in German), DE/RO
  2. ^ Duden (in German), DE/RO
  3. ^ Ons volksleven - Volume 5. L. Braeckmans. 1893. p. 23. Nu nog hoort men dit leste in Duitschland, ofschoon het Gott helfe dir sterk afgewisseld wordt met het onchristelijk Gesundheit.
  4. ^ "Siebenbürgisches Wörterbuch zwischen Ajuria und Ziweben" by Monika Ronneberger (in German), DE/RO
  5. ^ "zum Wohl – Wiktionary". de.wiktionary.org (in German). Retrieved 2018-09-28.
  6. ^ Visindavefur (in Icelandic), IS.
  7. ^ The Korean Standard Unabridged Dictionary(in Korean)
  8. ^ The Korean Standard Unabridged Dictionary(in Korean)
  9. ^ ThemeFuse (26 April 2012). "Say Cheers in 50 Different Languages". Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  10. ^ dict.leo.org (in German), RO
  11. ^ "prosit". Sök i tre ordböcker på en gång (in Swedish). Retrieved 2019-05-30.
  12. ^ Perles, Keren (October 19, 2009). "A List of Common Yiddish Expressions and Their Meanings".

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ From Latin where it means "I wish it will benefit you"
  2. ^ From Latin where it means "may it be good"
  3. ^ From Latin where it means "May it be good"

Further reading[edit]