What Do You Say When an Agnostic Sneezes? November 21, 2010

What Do You Say When an Agnostic Sneezes?

Go to Cyanide & Happiness for the punchline 🙂

"The way republican politics are going these days, that means the winner is worse than ..."

It’s Moving Day for the Friendly ..."
"It would have been more convincing if he used then rather than than."

It’s Moving Day for the Friendly ..."

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • ManaCostly

    The correct reponse would be: “I have no knowledge of any blessing that have been laid upon you.”

  • Vivian

    I actually don’t say anything. People don’t seem to like that.

  • a

    “gesundheit.” or nothing–why the need to say anything?

  • Jon Peterson

    I took a cue from Foxtrot. If the person covers their mouth, I say nothing. If not, I say “curse you”.

    If they give me a funny look, or question it, I explain: “You didn’t cover your mouth! So curse you, you germ-spewing villain!”

  • Rodney

    I think it was Penn Jillette who put me on to this, I’ve doing it ever since – works really well.



    “That’s funny.”

  • Christi

    I say gesundheit

  • Richard Wade

    Similar to Jon Peterson, I’ve found that regardless of anyone’s religious stance, the best response to someone sneezing in my presence is:


    Then I very kindly hand them a tissue and say I hope they feel better soon.

    Then I go wash my hands and face, and put on a flu mask.

  • Sue D. Nymme

    I don’t say anything, and like @Vivian says, people seem to find this annoying.
    I also don’t say “thank you” when someone says “bless you” (or other words) when I sneeze. What am I thanking them for?

  • RG

    Unless they sneeze on me, or make no attempt to cover their mouth, I see no reason to say anything. What do you say if a person coughs? What do you say if a person clears their throat?

  • AJ

    I say Gesundheit because it just means “good health.”

  • Rebecca

    I just ask them if they feel any better. Or: C’mon! Just ONE MORE!!
    Well, it makes ME feel better anyway…

  • NotYou007

    I don’t say anything, and like @Vivian says, people seem to find this annoying.
    I also don’t say “thank you” when someone says “bless you” (or other words) when I sneeze. What am I thanking them for?

    That about sums it up for me as well. If my daughter sneezes around me I’ll say, you just sneezed, need a tissue?

  • Javier

    Gesundheit sounds as a good alternative.
    Let me tell that in my native langue, which happens to be Spanish, when someone sneezes we would say “Salud!” (Health! meaning Have good health!).
    In Spanish there’s no blessing when someone sneezes.
    Ever considered pronouncing “Gesundheit” or “Salud”?

  • Deiloh

    “Goodness!” if it is a surprise sneeze and “Excuse You!” if the person knew it was coming and sprayed it all over the friggin room.

    Otherwise, if it is properly muffled with the corner of the person’s arm, I typically don’t say anything.

  • Egoistpaul

    You are so good looking.

  • James

    We say “damn you” in my house.
    We figure it has about as much significance as bless you.

    My 7 year old told an elderly lady at the grocery store “damn you” after she sneezed the other day.
    I about had a heart attack at the look on her face.

  • SQFreak

    I always say, “Stop dying.”

  • Kayte

    I say, “I acknowledge your sneeze” with a little tongue-in-cheek silliness to it. I work with kids, and never really knew what a ubiquitous social more “bless you” can be, until I heard some of the kids in my charge saying “I acknowledge your sneeze” to one another instead of “bless you”.

  • AxeGrrl

    I like to keep it simple: I say ‘gesundheit’ for ALL bodily function noises 🙂

  • Andi

    I say gesundheit also. Good health.

  • Dan

    I’ve always said “gesundheit”, it’s what my parents would say.

    The reason you say that over nothing at all is because when you sneeze, your heart rate changes. And who knows if you’re coming down with a cold.

    I also say it when someone coughs or burps. Thats 50% for fun 50% to be consistent. 🙂

  • My 7 year old told an elderly lady at the grocery store “damn you” after she sneezed the other day.

    Out of the mouths of babes… Ya you gotta be careful what sorts of things you teach kids eh 🙂

    Also, I do really love the “damn you” thing. Might use that in future.

  • Richard P.

    Ah fuck you, got it on me!!

    Always makes them jump.

  • bigjohn756

    Gesundheit, meaning good health, is ,to me, the best response.

  • MH

    Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be blessed. Conversely, if not blessing but something else may be required to ensure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this statement.

    Google “The Agnostic’s Prayer” to see where I got this from.

  • Mikko

    nothing at all

  • Beijingrrl

    My family says gesundheit. Although I do like the Seinfeld, “You’re so good looking” someone quoted above.

  • TheLoneIguana

    I’ve been using “Force be with you.” Mostly for the confused looks.

  • Jen

    In my house we say, “Stop sneezing!”

    Isn’t that what people usually mean when they say “Bless You,” anyway?

    It’s highly effective. 90% of the time the recipient does, in fact, stop sneezing.

  • Julia

    At my house we say, “Don’t lose your soul!!!”

  • I don’t know whether it matters.

    But the response is useful.

    Apparently, when you say “Thank you” (presumably for the good intention), the real loopers throw a fit because that’s “bad luck”. Then when they do so you are free to laugh at their silliness.

    Or alternatively, just say “I doubt it”.

  • Another gesundheit person here. I either say that or nothing and if they glare at me for not saying nothing, I just stare back as if I don’t know what they’re expecting. If they are actually rude enough to ask if I’m going to say “bless you”, they asked for the mini-lecture it will net them.

    I also don’t say thank you when someone says bless you when I sneeze. I just ignore them though I went through a rebellious stage for a few years of saying cursed be in response to blessing just to discomfit them. My grandson started with the bless you and even god bless you a couple of times (don’t know if he was taught this at dad’s or school) but I soon corrected this telling him I did not want to hear blessings every time I sneezed and I found it insulting. It’s a big part of why I went back to gesundheit, which he now says.

    Javier, my daughter and I did fall into the habit of saying salud when we lived in Denver, which has a high Mexican population, to spare us the dirty looks for saying nothing. My daughter still says it most of the time.

  • Jen

    When I was a christian, dating an atheist guy, I felt the need to say something to acknowledge the sneeze, just to convey the message that I notice or pay attention to the state of his health, but didn’t want to say “god bless you” and offend him. So I just decided to say “Saskatchewan!” because it sounded silly and made him smile. He himself always says “God damn you!” in a very sarcastic way.

  • daakujc

    The usual thing. What? Are you saying, I am not allowed to say “what the hell!” if I do not believe in hell, or “oh my god!” if I do not believe in god.

    These are things that are in place to increase social interaction among people. More similar to saying “How are you?” to some obscure friends that you rarely meet. You do not really have to mean it.

  • Edmond

    I’m with RG, I say nothing at all. What is the point? There is no response for a cough, a hiccup, a yawn, a burp, a stomach rumble… why does sneezing get special consideration? Even Wikipedia isn’t sure why, so it’s hardly likely the person saying it understands the origin of the custom.

    If someone asks me why I didn’t say anything, my ready response is “I’m not a priest. I don’t bless people.”

  • Steven

    I used to not say anything, but I got quite tired of people’s annoyed reactions, so now
    I usually say “Bless you child!” and cross the person with my hands, kind of like you see the Pope doing… Those who know that I am just being a dick usually laugh, and those who don’t still laugh, so it’s a win-win…
    I like “Gesundheit” as well, but rarely use it… When I am speaking with Francophone friends, I’ll usually say the equivalent “à vos souhaits!” because it means “to your health/well-wishes” but it’s not a phrase a lot of other people are familiar with…

  • Nova

    I just say gesundheit and move on. If I sneeze and then someone says “bless you” or “god bless you” to me, I let it pass without comment. Despite the religious nature of their utterance, it was said out of politeness and consideration, so that’s no time for me to challenge them.

  • Will

    A friend of mine once suggested that Quit it! would be an appropriate atheist/agnostic response to sneezes.

  • LeAnne

    y’know, i don’t usually say anything. i used to say ‘bless you’ (purely out of habit) but that quickly left when i started dating my boyfriend..

    he sneezes.
    me: bless you.
    him: what, is my soul flying out of my nose?

  • bernerbits

    ‘scuse you.

    Actually reminds me of a rather ignorant Dane Cook routine about atheists.

  • pinksponge

    Like some others here, I generally say “salud” if I say anything at all. It’s a reflexive, meaningless social habit, one among many. What someone says, or doesn’t say, in response to sneezes, is no big deal in my book. Just say/do what you like. (And cover your sneezes, and wash your hands!)

  • Dianne

    Say gesundheit, it means good health

  • elianara

    I use the Swedish “Prosit!”

    It is a latin word with the meaning: May it benefit you

  • I usually too wrapped up in my smug selfish arrogant thoughts thinking I’m smarter than all the silly religious people to notice sneezing. If they sneeze several times in a row, I might look up and say something like “I’m sorry… Did you say something?”

  • Al

    …god!, use a tissue!

  • Justine

    The reason people say `bless you’ (when one sneezes) is because in medieval times, if one sneezed it probably meant the person had picked up the Bubonic Plague (and the person was blessing someone who would eventually die). `Ring-o-ring-of-Roses’ explains this in nursery rhyme form.

error: Content is protected !!