Medical Definition of Gesundheit

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Gesundheit: Interjection used to wish "good health," especially to someone who has sneezed. In this situation, Gesundheit is roughly equivalent to "God bless you."

In German "Gesundheit" means "health" (and "sanity"). Wishing "good health" was once thought to hold off the illness that might follow a sneeze.

"God bless you" came into comparable usage to prevent the escape of the soul from the body, which was thought to occur with a sneeze. (Soullessness was believed to cause ill health.)

Reviewed on 9/7/2018

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