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German for "Bless you".[1]

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 My Name Is Not Durwood.

Examples of Gesundheit include:


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".


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.


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.

Flynn: Gesundheit.


Films -- Live-Action

 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.
  • Totally averted in Der Schuh des Manitu, despite the fact it is a German film, it's a comedy, it's a parody of lots and lots of tropes and one character is called Abahachi. Note, that "Abahachi" nearly sounds like "Aber--*hatschi*" ("but--*german onomatopoeia for the sound of a sneeze*"), so it would be somehow justified.

Literature

 "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 so 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."


Live-Action TV

 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, and a little girl asks about the chakram... ah, it goes like this.

 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".


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

 "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


Web Comics

 Yeagar: Look out! Shuriken!

Piffany: Gesundheit.


Web Original

 The Enchantress: (reading a location on the map) Chnaffon!

The Ranger: Gesundheit.

The Barbarian: Gesundheit.

The Dwarf: Die!


Western Animation

 Patrick: Well, I guess he's reconstituted.

SpongeBob: Rehabilitated.

Patrick: Gesundheit.

 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.

 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.

Notes

  1. Actually means "Health" but is used whenever someone sneezes like "Bless you"
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