Sunday, September 11, 2011

A.Word.A.Day – Sept. 7, 2011: gesundheit

A Word A Day" by Anu Garg


interjection: Used to wish good health to someone who has sneezed.

From German Gesundheit (health), from gesund (healthy) + -heit (-hood). Earliest documented use: 1914.


Borrowing the characters from another story that isn’t finished. The only people I’ve heard say “gesundheit” after someone sneezes are either Jewish or German (or both, I suppose). YMMV.


“Mom, I told you, we’re not putting lights on the house.”

“But it’s Christmas!”

“But David’s Jewish; I’ve been over this with you—”

“Niall.” David rubbed Niall’s arm. “It’s okay. Your parents are here, we’ll have lights this once.”

“I hate doing this to you. It’s your house, too.”

“And I hate arguing with family.”

“Thanks. I owe you.” Niall smiled, then his face contorted and he sneezed.

David said, “Gesundheit!” just as Niall’s mother said “God Bless you!” and they each offered Niall a tissue. Niall hesitated, then took both.

It was going to be a long holiday.

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