sternutation

noun

ster·​nu·​ta·​tion ˌstər-nyə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce sternutation (audio)
: the act or noise of sneezing

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Sternutation comes from Latin and is a descendant of the verb sternuere, meaning "to sneeze." One of the earliest known English uses occurred in a 16th-century edition of a book on midwifery, in a passage about infants suffering from frequent "sternutation and sneesynge." The term has long been used in serious medical contexts, but also on occasion for humorous effect. In 1850, for example, author Grace Greenwood observed that U.S. senators from opposing political parties would often come together to share snuff: "And all three forget their sectional differences in a delightful concert of sternutation. No business is too grave, no speaker too eloquent, to be 'sneezed at.'"

Word History

Etymology

Middle English sternutacion, from Latin sternutation-, sternutatio, from sternutare to sneeze, frequentative of sternuere to sneeze; akin to Greek ptarnysthai to sneeze

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sternutation was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near sternutation

Cite this Entry

“Sternutation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sternutation. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Medical Definition

sternutation

noun
ster·​nu·​ta·​tion ˌstər-nyə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce sternutation (audio)
: the act, fact, or noise of sneezing
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