gesundheit

interjection
ge·​sund·​heit | \ gə-ˈzu̇nt-ˌhīt How to pronounce gesundheit (audio) \

Definition of gesundheit

used to wish good health especially to one who has just sneezed

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.

First Known Use of gesundheit

1914, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gesundheit

German, literally, health, from gesund healthy (from Old High German gisunt) + -heit -hood — more at sound entry 3

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gesundheit

Time Traveler for gesundheit

Time Traveler

The first known use of gesundheit was in 1914

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about gesundheit

Statistics for gesundheit

Cite this Entry

“Gesundheit.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gesundheit. Accessed 25 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for gesundheit

gesundheit

interjection
How to pronounce gesundheit (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of gesundheit

chiefly US used to wish good health to someone who has sneezed

More from Merriam-Webster on gesundheit

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gesundheit

Comments on gesundheit

What made you want to look up gesundheit? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

dull or mediocre

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!