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What are alternative responses for when someone sneezes?

I know the history/reason why people say bless you to you after you sneeze. My question is, is there an alternative to bless you which can be used when someone sneezes?

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marked as duplicate by simchona, Mahnax, jwpat7, FumbleFingers, RegDwigнt Jan 8 '12 at 21:48

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At least one answer is provided by the accepted answer of the linked questions... –  dmckee Jan 7 '12 at 16:43
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'Gesundheit' is used by English speakers without knowing German. It has assimilated into English. It is not productive (you can't make new words with it in English) bit it is still recognized by English speakers. Therefore it is English. –  Mitch Jan 7 '12 at 17:30
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I usually feign surprise for the heck of it. –  Rei Miyasaka Jan 7 '12 at 19:49
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As an aside, the French sometimes use a sequence of responses to multiple sneezes: "to your wishes" … "to your loves" … [exasperated] "to your death." –  tajmo Jan 7 '12 at 20:45
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Good boy/girl. Now wipe that off my face. –  Job Jan 7 '12 at 22:45
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5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I've read that in polite company, you shouldn't say anything, so as to not draw any additional attention to the sneezer's faux pas. As for alternatives to "bless you", I hear "Gesundheit" on TV a lot, but when I say it to people who just sneezed, they mostly don't seem to get it.

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The best alternative, I feel, is simply to say nothing. Saying "Bless you" (or Gesundheit, or anything else) after someone sneezes does, to some extent, oblige the sneezer to respond with thanks of some kind. This may be inconvenient, especially if the person is about to sneeze again, and such an exchange becomes downright silly in a chain of multiple sneezes — especially if, as often happens, the person is in another room, out of sight of the sneezer.

Me: [Sneeze]
You: Bless you!
Me: Tha— [Sneeze]
You: Bless you!
Me: Thank [Sneeze] you.
You: Bless you!
Me: Tha— [Sneeze]
You: Bless you!
Me: [Trying to find a tissue.] Thank you.

I, for one, prefer to be allowed to sneeze my sneezes without being caught up in a social ritual that has no practical value.

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+1 for the inspired dialogue that made me smile. Not at all far from reality... –  Irene Jan 7 '12 at 16:57
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+1 for the insight, -1 because it is not an answer about English but about common sense :) –  JeffSahol Jan 7 '12 at 17:27
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@JeffSahol: Silence is always an option when using English. You might be surprised how often it's the best option. –  Robusto Jan 7 '12 at 19:05
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But let me say this. Once he passes on that option, that "god bless you" is up for grabs. youtube.com/watch?v=XbnQWrfgbvI –  Henrik N Jan 7 '12 at 22:55
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Gesundheit is a perfectly good alternative saying.

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... and is found in English dictionaries. –  GEdgar Jan 7 '12 at 17:09
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Rarely heard in British English though, have only really heard Americans (and Germans!) use it. –  scottishwildcat Jan 7 '12 at 22:07
    
And doesn't clog up the com link with God with this human reflex to get the tickle out of your nose. –  Dale Jan 7 '12 at 22:40
    
I have heard "gesundheit" all my life in Michigan, Iowa, and Texas. I suspect waves of German immigration transplanted the word here. –  MετάEd Jan 7 '12 at 23:49
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Of course ‘Gesundheit’ (health) is the correct thing to say, because that is what you wish for the person. If you say ‘Krankheit’ (sickness), I hope you know the person well enough so they don’t mind. –  MPi Jan 8 '12 at 10:56
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I usually say "salud" (sa-lood) or "to health."

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I had a friend in high school that was a Native Indian, and took great offense to me blessing him after a sneeze. When I asked what he preferred instead, he responded, "Your health."

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protected by RegDwigнt Jan 8 '12 at 20:41

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