Anika R.
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German Words in the English Language #2: ...

German Words in the English Language #2: Gesundheit!

Oct 11, 2021

You say it when somebody sneezes, in Germany and in America. But do you know what it actually means?

Gesundheit is ‘health’ in English, and you wish somebody (good) health when they sneeze. In Austria though, you would say “Helf dir Gott” (Help you God).

Not only Germans wish the sneezer health, in Spanish speaking countries they do it too. But it isn’t clear where it came from or when people started saying it. The theories mostly go back to the time of the plague when sneezing might have been viewed as the first symptom of disease. The wish for health may have been for the person who sneezed or the well-wisher themselves to be spared from the plague. Another theory is that a part of the soul leaves the body when a person sneezes. By wishing them “health”, it might be prevented.

Do you say "Gesundheit" or "Bless you"?

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