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In English speaking countries it's common practice to say "bless you" to someone who sneezes. The etymology of this practice has been covered in a previous question:

"Bless you" & sneezing

Secular Alternative

My question is, what secular alternative is in common use?

I often say something like "good health," which sounds a little odd in English but most people take it well. Is there any other common alternative?

marked as duplicate by Ellie Kesselman, choster, Nicole, aedia λ, Drew Mar 17 '15 at 2:30

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  • 2
    It already is secular. – waywardEevee Oct 20 '14 at 3:46
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    You really have to be thinking about God a lot to be so worried about a spurious blessing. – Oldcat Oct 21 '14 at 0:40

The most common alternative response that I'm aware of, especially in American English, is "Gesundheit!". Gesundheit! is borrowed from German, and literally means "Health!".


Actually "Bless you!" (often uttered as "bleshoo") can be considered as the secular (or neutral) version of "God bless you!". It is just so common that it doesn't necessarily have any religious connotations when said and it used used by many non-religious people as well.

Usage notes from Wiktionary:

Saying bless you after a sneeze is not considered particularly religious. Those who say or receive the remark may or may not belong to a religion themselves, and no offense is usually intended by the speaker or taken by the recipient if the recipient is not religious by nature. English speakers not comfortable saying bless you might instead use the German loanword gesundheit.

Related question: What are alternative responses for when someone sneezes?

There is this list with some humorous options also. Some notable ones:

  • “You are so good looking.” (From Seinfeld episode #38, “The Good Samaritan”.)
  • “Tissue?”
  • “Salud!” (Spanish. After a sneeze, “Your health.” As a toast, “Cheers”.)
  • “Are you okay?”
  • Dog bless you!

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