"Bless you" or "God bless you" are commonly used after a sneeze but does one exist (or was one once commonly used but no longer) when a person is obviously about to sneeze?

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    None that I know of - this seems like a very niche use and whenever I squint at something, people think I'm about to sneeze. Might get confusing.
    – jimsug
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 12:27
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    I say Bless you for fun WHILE they sneeze if I see they are about to
    – mplungjan
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 12:57
  • Light is a common sneezing trigger
    – Third News
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 12:58
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    I say... "You are so good looking." before or after. Commented May 6, 2014 at 21:37
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    I've said "boo", which can scare them out of the sneeze. Very frustrating. A children's book (Where Did I Come From?) uses a "great big sneeze" to explain to young children what an orgasm feels like. Commented May 6, 2014 at 22:33

1 Answer 1


Gesundheit! Sneezing Gets A Big Reaction

As a child with various minor allergies, I used to sneeze quite often. Each time she heard me sneeze, my grandmother would quickly bless me with ''zum leben un gesund'' (to life and health) and pull up on my right ear. Upon the inevitable second sneeze, my left ear would be pulled, accompanied by another blessing, ''zum wachsen un kwelln'' (to grow and thrive).

As the act of sneezing was associated with death, there are likely many 'old wives' expressions. The children's rhyme "Ring Around the Rosie" addresses the link between a plague death and sneezing:

  • Ring-a-ring o' roses,
    A pocket full of posies,
    A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
    We all fall down.

Wikipedia list over 80 languages for Responses to sneezing, and whereas some include different blessings/health terms for the second or third sneeze, none are 'preventative'

  • 2
    I think your grandmother just enjoyed pulling on your ears.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 17:01
  • The link is from a NY Times story -not mine
    – Third News
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 18:32

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