Sneezing is one of the most common and involuntary bodily functions. It happens to everyone, regardless of age, gender, or nationality.
And while we all know how to sneeze in our native language, have you ever wondered how to sneeze in a foreign language?
Not only is it a fun party trick, but it's also a great way to expand your perspective on different languages and cultures around the world, as the way we sneeze differs a lot.
In this article, we'll teach you how to sneeze in different languages, so you can add a new skill to your language-learning arsenal.
So, get ready to say "achoo" in a whole new way!
Let’s talk about onomatopoeias
Achoo! Atchoum! Achis! These are all words that describe the sound of sneezing. Linguistically speaking, these words are onomatopoeias: words that mimic sounds to describe and name that sound.
In the English language, we’ve got lots of onomatopoeias. You may even be using them in your everyday conversations without realizing it. Words such as “bang,” “boom,” or “click” are all onomatopoeias. They’re very present in our daily lives.
You’d think that every person on the planet would hear the same sound when you sneeze. And yet, each language interprets this sound differently, creating sneezing onomatopoeias that are vastly different from each other.
Why does this happen?
Most likely because people tend to modify the sound of sneezing according to the rules and sounds of their native language. This explains why the sound for sneezing in English is “achoo,” but in Polish it’s “apsik.”
Is saying bless you universal?
The same goes for how we reply to sneezing. While in English the go-to thing to say after someone sneezes is “bless you” or “God bless you,” this is not the standard reply in other languages.
For example, Slavic languages like Russian, Polish, or Czech all use a response that translates to “for your health” in English. Similarly, in Spanish, French, and Portuguese, you’d reply with a simple “health.”
How to sneeze and respond to sneezes in 80 different languages
Sneezing is a natural reaction to nasal irritation and one that is ingrained in our DNA. We’re all different, so it's only right that the way we sneeze should vary around the globe.
We know you know how to sneeze in your own language – whether you do it with “achoo” or “atchoo” or something else entirely – but what about in other parts of the world?
So, we prepared a list of 80 ways to sneeze in different languages, together with the responses to sneezes.
|Amharic||አጥሸ (Atsheshe)||ይማርሽ (yimarish for female, yimarih for male)||May God forgive you|
|Arabic||هاشوم (Hashoom)||يرحمك الله (yarahmuk Allah)||May God have mercy on you|
|Armenian||Ուրար (Urar)||առողջություն (aroghjutyun)||Health|
|Azerbaijani||Huşşu||Sağlam ol||Be healthy|
|Bangla||হাচু (Hachu)||আল্লাহ তোমার উপর রহম দান করুন (Alhamdulillah)||May God have mercy on you|
|Basque||Atsitsu||Doministiku||The Lord be with you|
|Belarusian||апчхі (Apchhi)||будзь здаровы (Budz zdarovy)||Be healthy|
|Bulgarian||Апчиха (Apchiha)||Наздраве (Nazdrave)||To your health|
|Cantonese||哈欠 (Haa-ching)||好嘅 (Hǎo kǎi)||A great fortunate occurrence|
|Chinese (Mandarin)||哈啾 (Ha jiu)||Mandarin people do not comment when someone sneezes|
|Croatian||Apsik||Nazdravlje||To your health|
|Czech||Ačí||Na zdraví||To your health|
|Danish||Atju||Prosit||To your health|
|Filipino (Tagalog)||Haa-tsing||Haa||Bless you|
|Finnish||Atsiuh||Terveydeksi||To your health|
|French||Atchoum||À tes souhaits||To your health|
|Gaelic||Haich||Dia leat||God with you|
|Georgian||აჩი (Achi)||ჯანმრთელობა (janmrteloba)||Health|
|Greek||Ατσουμ (atsoum)||γείτσες (gítses)||Health|
|Haitian Creole||Atchoum||Sentez bon||Feel well|
|Hebrew||צ'יק (tzik)||לבריאות (labri'oot)||To your health|
|Hindi||छींक (Chheenk)||आपकी ज़िदंगी में खुशियां हो" (aapki zindagi mein khushiyaan ho)||May happiness come into your life|
|Hungarian||Hapci||Egészségedre||To your health|
|Icelandic||Átshú||Guð blessi þig||God bless you|
|Japanese||ハクション (Hakushon)||大丈夫? (Daijoubu?)||Are you okay?|
|Kazakh||Апчы (Apchy)||Сау Болыңыз (Saw Bolıñız)||Be healthy|
|Khmer||ស្រលេះ (sraleh)||ស្បើយ (S'baoi)||Fast recovery|
|Korean||재채기 (Jaechae-gi)||Koreans don’t comment when someone sneezes.|
|Kyrgyz||Апчы (Apchy)||Сага болго (Saga bolgo)||Be healthy|
|Latvian||Atšķan||Veselību||To your health|
|Lithuanian||Apsčiau||Į sveikatą||To your health|
|Macedonian||Апчи (Apchi)||Наздравје (Nazdravje)||To your health|
|Malay||Hapci||Hari Krishna (ഹരി കൃഷ്ണാ)||May Krishna bless you|
|Mongolian||Хаашаа (haashaa)||Бурхан өршөө (Burkhan örshöö)||May God forgive you|
|Nepali||छींक (Chheenk)||चिरञ्जीवी भव (Chiranjeevi Bhawa)||May you live long|
|Oromo||Aticho||Akka dhaloota||As you age|
|Pashto||پوکائی (Pokai)||صبر (Sah-bur)||Patience|
|Persian||چهتو (Cheto)||عافیت باشه" (aafiyat baasheh)||May it be for your health|
|Polish||Apsik||Na zdrowie||To your health|
|Punjabi||Haa(n)Tii (ਹਾਂਟੀ)||ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ (Waheguru)||Glorious Lord|
|Quechua||Achhiy||Sumaj kawsaymi ñuqa||May you have a good life|
|Russian||Апчхи (Apchhi)||Будьте здоровы (Bud'te zdorovy)||Be healthy|
|Samoan||Ātciu||Manuia lou malaga||May your journey be blessed|
|Serbian||Апчи (Apči)||Наздравље (Nazdravie)||To your health|
|Slovak||Ačí||Na zdravie||To your health|
|Slovenian||Apsih||Na zdravje||To your health|
|Somali||Haakoo||Allow kuu naxariiso||May God have mercy on you|
|Swahili||Hachoo||Nafuu||May God have mercy on you|
|Tamil||அச்சு (Achu)||ஆயுசு நூறு (aa-yu-su noo-ru)/ஆயுள் நூறு (aa-yul noo-ru)||Live long or Live a 100 years|
|Thai||ชิ้น (Chin)||หนึ่งในหลายสุข (Nueng nai lai suk)||One of the many happiness|
|Turkish||Hapşu||Çok yaşa||Live long|
|Ukrainian||Апчхі (Apchhi)||Будьте здорові (Bud'te zdorovi)||Be healthy|
|Uzbek||Apchi||Sog' bo'ling||Be healthy|
|Vietnamese||Hắt xì||Sức khỏe||Good health|
|Welsh||Atsiw||Bendith||God bless you|
You can listen to how people sneeze in different languages around the world in this short video from Condé Nast Traveler.
70 People Reveal How To Sneeze and Say 'Bless You' in 70 Countries | Condé Nast Traveler
Here’s the funny version of sneezing in different countries. I’m warning you - it’s hilarious.
How to say “bless you” in fictional languages
If you’re both an avid language learner and a fan of fantasy books and movies, you’ll definitely enjoy learning how to say “bless you” in your favorite fantasy languages.
So the next time your friend who also loves Game of Thrones as much as you do sneezes, you can proudly tell them “Hajas” (that’s the equivalent of “cheers” in Dothraki).
Here are some phrases that can be used as the equivalent of the English “bless you” (we think).
|Language||“Bless you” equivalent||Meaning|
|Quenya||Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo||A star shines on the hour of our meeting.|
|Sindarin||Êl síla erin lû e-govaded 'wîn.||A star shines on the hour of our meeting.|
|Na’vi||Eywa ngahu||May Eywa be with you.|
Where did “bless you” come from?
“Bless you” flies out of our mouths immediately after someone sneezes. Whether it’s a friend at a dinner party or a stranger standing in the Starbucks line behind us, “bless you” is the automatic response whenever someone sneezes.
Have you ever stopped to think why?
Nowadays, “bless you” carries no more importance to us than just being polite.
But back in the days of the Byzantine Empire and the early European Christians, people believed that sneezing created an opening for evil spirits to enter their bodies. So, they’d respond to it with a blessing, trying to keep the evil spirits away from the sneezer.
At least, that’s one of a few theories. But all of these theories, however different, claim that sneezing was somehow connected to the spiritual realm.
Learning how to sneeze in different languages may seem like a trivial pursuit, but it's a great way to expand your language skills and impress those around you.
Just like learning how to say hello in different languages, it's all about broadening your horizons and embracing different cultures.
So, the next time you feel a sneeze coming on, try saying "atchoo" in a new language. Who knows, it might just lead to a conversation with someone you never expected to connect with!