ster·​nu·​ta·​tion | \ ˌstər-nyə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce sternutation (audio) \

Definition of sternutation

: the act or noise of sneezing

Did You Know?

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.'"

First Known Use of sternutation

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sternutation

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

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

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Cite this Entry

“Sternutation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for sternutation


ster·​nu·​ta·​tion | \ ˌstər-nyə-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce sternutation (audio) \

Medical Definition of sternutation

: the act, fact, or noise of sneezing

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