"Gesundheit!" said the man on the bicycle as he passed a lady on the sidewalk who had sneezed.
"The air was filled with 'God Bless You' and 'Gesundheit' as our Tuesday study group got together the other day . We were reading together accompanied by sneezes, but it helped us ignore our stuffed-up heads." -- From an article by Sirkka Holm in the Finnish American Reporter, December 2010
- DID YOU KNOW?
When English speakers hear "achoo," they usually respond with either "gesundheit" or "God bless you." "Gesundheit" was borrowed from German, where it literally means "health"; it was formed by a combination of "gesund" ("healthy") and "-heit" ("-hood"). Wishing a person good health when they sneezed was traditionally believed to forestall the illness that a sneeze often portends. "God bless you" had a similar purpose, albeit with more divine weight to the well-wishing. It was once believed that the soul could exit the body during a sneeze, causing ill health, so folks said "God bless you" to ward off this danger. "Gesundheit," at one time, also served as a toast when drinking (much like its English counterpart, "to your health"), but this usage is now mostly obsolete.
Test Your Vocabulary: What 12-letter word beginning with "s" refers to the act, fact, or noise of sneezing? The answer is ...
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