singidunum wrote:boghog wrote:Doesn't it just mean "good health"?
"Gesundheit" means health...
And the word has quite an interesting origin: It is believed that the expression stems from the Middle Ages when the Bubonic Plague was threatening European health. In this case the person saying gesundheit was actually wishing good health upon themselves, since they may have been infected by the one who sneezed. During this time it was also commonly believed that sneezing made one's body vulnerable to evil spirits. Thus another plausible explanation is that gesundheit was a blessing to ward off demons while the sneezer's body was defenseless. (from Wiki)
Expression "gesundheit" has been brought into the English language via Ashkenazi Jews who were immigrating in large masses to the United States during the early twentieth century.
Now, why change it, when it has such a nice history?
I hate to tell you, but it's Yiddish. It originated in the old country (i'm not sure which one).