Gesundheit

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Definition:

used to wish good health especially to one who sneezed

Description:

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 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 the soul could exit the body during a sneeze, causing ill health. 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.

Source:

Merriam Webster Dictionary - Word of the Day

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