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Gesundheit
German equivalent of "Bless you" (lit. "health").

A joke in which one character says an unusual name or a long, odd-sounding or uncommon word, and another character reacts by saying "gesundheit" or "bless you," as though the first character just sneezed.

A common form of the joke is for the Idiot Hero or The Big Guy to start things off by using an incorrect term, only to reply "gesundheit" when corrected by another character, as in the following hypothetical example:

Big Guy: True Art is Dialectic.
Smart Guy: Didactic.
Big Guy: Gesundheit.

In this form, the trope is used to illustrate the character's lack of intelligence: not only did he get the original word wrong, he failed to recognize the correct word when provided with it, mistaking it for nonsense (whether it actually sounds anything like a sneeze or not). It can also be used by a Cloudcuckoolander or someone so naive that they honestly don't recognize the word.

The trope is also employed more knowingly by Deadpan Snarkers in order to comment on odd and hard-to-pronounce names and words. In some cases they may intentionally set the gag up for themselves by making an error deliberately, counting on the other character to unwittingly play the Straight Man and correct them. In this form, it can overlap with Accidental Misnaming.

Compare Calling Me a Logarithm.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Audio Play 

    Comic Books 
  • Played with in one story of Archie Comics, where they come to an aid of a young foreign prince. Jughead always says Gesundheit whenever the prince mentions the name of his country, "Kashew".
  • In Uncanny X-Men #275, when Jubilee meets an alien called Ch'od:
    Ch'od: I'm Ch'od.
    Jubilee: Gesundheit!
    Ch'od: That's my name, small mammal.
    Jubilee: Oh. I knew that.
  • In the Johan and Peewit book introducing The Smurfs, Peewit says "bless you" the first time they are mentioned.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a strip of Baby Blues, Hammie tries and fails to say Gesundheit multiple times. His mother asks why he doesn't just say "Bless you."
    Hammie: Too hard to say.
  • In one Garfield strip, Jon is pouring syrup on pancakes, when Garfield lets out a tremendous sneeze, covering Jon with the pancakes. "Gesundheit," says Jon.

    Fan Works 
  • Hoofstuck:
    RD: Look, Twah, I know you love your magic and all, but there must be a better place to practice your long distance tellykismesis.
    RD: Gesundheit.
  • Sonic Generations: Friendship is Timeless:
    Applejack: Ah don't know what that is, but Ah don't think Pinkie Pie knows anythin' about no nin… ten… du…
    Espio: Ninjutsu.
    Rainbow Dash: Gesundheit.
  • In Samurai Powerpuffs, whenever Samurai Jack says "Aku", The Powerpuff Girls think he's sneezing and say "Gesundheit". Since Jack has never heard of this expression, he thinks the girls are using Insistent Terminology on how to say Aku's name. Later, the group catches on to the misunderstanding. Later, when the girls say "Aku", Jack playfully says "Gesundheit".

    Films — Animation 
  • Played with in Mulan when Mushu is giving Mulan suggestions for a boy's name to use for her Masquerade:
    Mushu: Try Ah... ah... Chu!
    Mulan: Achoo.
    Shang: Achoo?
    Mushu: Gesundheit. I kill myself.
  • Tangled: When Rapunzel first tells Flynn her name. Justified due to Flynn's status as the film's chief Deadpan Snarker.
    Flynn: All right, Blondie—
    Rapunzel: Rapunzel.
    (Beat)
    Flynn: Gesundheit.
  • Yellow Submarine, after Old Fred pleads his case to Ringo:
    Ringo: Oh, your story has touched me heart. Jump in (the car), we'll get me friends.
    Old Fred: Oh, bless you!
    Ringo: Did I sneeze?

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A self-deprecating example from Last Action Hero:
    Danny: You think you're funny, don't you?
    Jack: I know I am. I'm the famous comedian Arnold Braunschweiger.
    Danny: Schwarzenegger!
    Jack: Gesundheit.
  • Played with in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. The character played by Dave Chappelle is actually named Achoo. His name is mistaken for a sneeze — Ahsneeze is his father — every time a character hears it for the first time, and one character follows up by thinking he's a Jew.
  • In Der Schuh des Manitu, a German comedy, one character is called Abahachi ("hatschi" is the German onomatopoeia for a sneeze. When Dimitri mentions his name, Karl May (a half-conscious drunk in this movie, the writer of several popular westerns in Germany in real life) mumbles "Gesundheit".
  • In A Fairly Odd Summer, Timmy's parents react this way when he meets them in Hawaii and greets them with, "Mahalo".

    Literature 
  • From Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:
    "What's that?" said Ron, pointing at a large dish of some sort of shellfish stew that stood beside a large steak-and-kidney pudding.
    "Bouillabaisse," said Hermione.
    "Bless you," said Ron.
  • Winnie the Pooh: The original book contains a dragged-out scene where Owl says they must "issue" a reward for Eeyore's tail, and Pooh replies "What did you say we should do with a reward? You sneezed just as you were about to tell me." They go back and forth on this several times.
    • The trailer for the 2011 film has a scene in which Owl says that they must "issue a reward." Pooh interrupts with "gesundheit," saying that Owl sneezed. Owl replies that "the word is 'issue,' not 'achoo,'" Pooh suggests that he's catching a cold and Eeyore says he'll probably catch it too.
    • The Russian version, and its animated adaptation, achieved the same joke by having Owl use various words that sound like sneezes. And to top it all off, in the animated version she really does have a sneezing fit by the end of the conversation.
  • Subverted in The Mage Winds Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey, where a wolf-like creature's name is mispronounced as "Hashi." He doesn't correct them because his real name really DOES sound like a sneeze.
  • There's a moment in The Warlock In Spite Of Himself where Rod Gallowglass is talking with a ghost who makes a reference to "the chamber with the strange device." Rod recognizes this as resembling a recurring line from a famous poem, and adds the word that always comes next in the poem: "Excelsior." The ghost, who apparently doesn't know the poem, replies, "Gesundheit."
  • Lampshaded in Scoop when a foreign gentlemen introduces himself by making a sneezing sound, then says, "That is my name."
  • In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Original Sin, Benny says "Bless you" when offered a tisane by Provost-Major Beltempest. Beltempest doesn't realise she was making a joke, and explains what a tisane is.
  • Used in Section 31: Rogue.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Top Gear:
    James: What would you say if I said, Perodua Kelisa?
    Richard: Ooh, bless you!
  • Played with in an episode of Babylon 5, where it's part of a joke being told:
    "Knock, Knock."
    "Who's there?"
    "Kosh."
    "Kosh who?"
    "Gesundheit."
  • In the Xena episode "Warrior...Princess...", a Xena look-a-like named Diana (who happens to be a princess!), is sharing a meal with some poor people;
    Peasant girl: What is that? (referring to the chakram)
    Diana: Oh, this? This is... my round killing thing.
    Gabrielle: "Chakram".
    Diana: Bless you.
  • This became a running gag on the Trevor and Simon sketches in Live And Kicking whenever EastEnders star Letitia Dean was a guest.
    Trevor: Pleased to meet you, Latoya.
    Letitia: "Letitia".
    Trevor & Simon: Bless you!
  • Cordelia has this reaction when Angel sends her to speak to some transuding furies in "That Old Gang of Mine".
  • Bones:
    Hodgins: Aegialia concinna.
    Dr. Saroyan: Gesundheit.
    Hodgins: Also known as scarab beetles.
  • A variation/subversion occurs on Sherlock:
    John: Fantastic!
    Sherlock: Meretricious.
    Lestrade: And a Happy New Year.
  • M*A*S*H: In "Margaret's Engagement," Hawkeye, B.J. and Potter are eavesdropping on Frank's phone conversation to his mother:
    Hawkeye: He's crying.
    B.J.: Catharsis.
    Hawkeye: Gesundheit.
  • Spitting Image: In one sketch Ronald Reagan is rambling about Mikhail Gorbachev, while (then) Vice President George Bush Sr. and US Chief of Staff Donald Regan listen and roll their eyes.
    Donald Regan: "What's he on about?"
    George Bush: "Glasnost."
    President Reagan: "God bless you, George."
    George Bush: "Oh, and perestroika."
    President Reagan: "Will you guys stop sneezing!"

    Music 
  • Parodied in a cover of "Minnie the Moocher:"
    Singer: Aaaaaaaaachoo!
    Audience: Aaaaaaaaachoo!
    Singer: [complex string of nonsense lyrics]
    Audience: Aaaaaaachoo!
    Singer: Gesundheit.
  • In Fernando Delgadillo's acid-fueled song about a noontime traffic jam resembling the Sahara:
    Guarda ese que trae cara de fumador the hachís... [Watch out for that guy, who looks like a hashish smoker...]
    Salud [Gesundheit.]
    ¡No, hachís! [No, hashish!]
    ¡Salud, menso! [Gesundheit, dunce!]
    Gracias. [Thanks]
    De nada, hermano. (Bless you, brother.]

    Puppet Shows 
  • In a segment on Sesame Street, Grover is dressed up as a cowboy and sitting on a horse. He shouts out "Saskatchewan!" — "Gesundheit!" replies the horse.

    Theater 
  • The musical Wonderful Town has several instances in the spoken patter of "Swing!" Here's one:
    Ruth: I want my favorite dish.
    Chorus: Fish!
    Ruth: Gesundheit.
    Chorus: Thanks.
    Ruth: It's nothing.
  • Merrily We Roll Along has one in "Bobby and Jackie and Jack" as the characters imagine the Kennedys' White House cultural events:
    Beth: (in character as Jackie Kennedy) And Galina... Vishnevskaya —
    Charley and Frank: Gesundheit.
    Beth: — the Russian soprano. Just pronouncing her name is refreshing enough!

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto III : One of the cheat codes of the game is "gesundheit". Kind of funny considering the protagonist is not named and doesn't talk.
  • From the Interactive Fiction game Planetfall:
    "zork"
    "Gesundheit!"
  • From the 2011 Halloween event in Kingdom of Loathing: "A bat flies in through the window and lands on a sofa. There's a puff of smoke, and where the bat was sitting is a sorority girl vampire in a weirdly post-modern sexy Halloween costume. "N-n-n-nosferatu!" you stammer. "Um, like, bless you?" the vampire says, and leaps straight at your throat.
  • From the SpongeBob SquarePants game Battle for Bikini Bottom:
    Patrick: Here's your golden back scratcher!
    SpongeBob: Spatula.
    Patrick: Gesundheit.

    Web Animation 
  • Used in the Rooster Teeth series RWBY with Jaune Arc not knowing the word "Aura." Yes... Aura.
  • Used in an episode of the flash series Unforgotten Realms as a Running Gag with the word "delinquent".

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    Patrick: Well, I guess he's reconstituted.
    SpongeBob: Rehabilitated.
    Patrick: Gesundheit.
  • Phineas and Ferb, during a song.
    Ferb: Shiatsu!
    Phineas: Gesundheit.
    Ferb: Thank you very much.
  • The Flintstones would have Wilma say "Bless you" in response to Pebbles calling out to the Great Gazoo.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "May the Best Pet Win", Rainbow Dash writes to Princess Celestia that she's learned the best quality to look for in a potential pet (or friend):
    Rainbow Dash: ...a certain kind of spirit, a stick-to-it-iveness. A never-give-up, can-do attitude that's the mark of a real winner, and this tortoise has it.
    Twilight Sparkle: Tenacity.
    Rainbow Dash: Gesundheit.
    • Also used earlier in the show when, after Rainbow Dash describes the race course and finishes with a Sting on Ghastly Gorge, a lonesome eagle cry echoes across the land...to which she zooms over to said eagle and invokes the trope.
  • The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat, after some M.C. Escher-like staircases appear out of nowhere:
    Sheba: Whoa. Escher!
    Felix: Gesundheit.
  • The toy dragon on Doc McStuffins, Stuffy, does this when the titular Doc's new toy doll from Japan, Kiko, speaks in Japanese.
  • Beetlejuice: Lydia's re-enactment of Moby-Dick for the Neitherworld's "Disasterpiece Theater" TV show starts off dubiously. Her first line, "Call me Ishmael," is greeted immediately with "Gesundheit!" being shouted by a stagehand.
  • Zig-zag: The 1960s cartoon Roger Ramjet featured the Height Brothers: Horace, Cronk and Gesund.
  • This is Pinky's response to Auf Wiedersehen (german for goodbye).
  • Variant in Top Cat: In the episode "Space Monkey", Top Cat and his gang help Eek-Eek, a chimp from a space program, to escape and get home. Later on, when talking to Officer Dibble who's none the wiser about their scheme, they are delivered a crate of bananas and a letter signed by Eek-Eek.
    Top Cat's gang: Eek-Eek!
    Officer Dibble: What's all this "Eek-Eek" stuff?
    Top Cat: Guess the boys just have a touch of indigestion.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy: In "Test of Time", Billy has a magical remote from Grim that allows him to literally rewind time and generally uses it to goof off. After metting Mandy and getting her to say "pinhead" over for some laughs, Mandy starts getting a suspicion of events repeating themselves.
    Mandy: Hmm, deja vu.
    Billy: Gesundheit.


Criminal DoppelgängerTrope Names from Other LanguagesGötterdämmerung
For Science!Stock PhrasesGet a Hold of Yourself, Man!

alternative title(s): Sounds Like A Sneeze; Sesquipedalian Sternutation; Mistaken For Sneeze
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