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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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    At least one answer is provided by the accepted answer of the linked questions... Jan 7, 2012 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, 2012 at 17:30
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    I usually feign surprise for the heck of it. Jan 7, 2012 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."
    – Taj Moore
    Jan 7, 2012 at 20:45
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    Good boy/girl. Now wipe that off my face.
    – Job
    Jan 7, 2012 at 22:45

5 Answers 5


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.

  • Far out, what social circles is sneezing a foh pah?
    – tymtam
    Jul 24, 2018 at 4:45

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, 2012 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, 2012 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, 2012 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, 2012 at 22:55

Gesundheit is a perfectly good alternative saying.

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    ... and is found in English dictionaries.
    – GEdgar
    Jan 7, 2012 at 17:09
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    Rarely heard in British English though, have only really heard Americans (and Germans!) use it.
    – calum_b
    Jan 7, 2012 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, 2012 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.
    – MetaEd
    Jan 7, 2012 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, 2012 at 10:56

I usually say "salud" (sa-lood) or "to health."


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."

  • Who's a Native Indian?
    – tymtam
    Jul 24, 2018 at 4:46

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