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See more synonyms for sneeze on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object), sneezed, sneez·ing.
  1. to emit air or breath suddenly, forcibly, and audibly through the nose and mouth by involuntary, spasmodic action.
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  1. an act or sound of sneezing.
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Verb Phrases
  1. sneeze at, Informal. to treat with contempt; scorn: $50,000 is nothing to sneeze at.
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Origin of sneeze

1485–95; earlier snese; replacing Middle English fnese, Old English fnēosan; cognate with Dutch fniezen, Old Norse fnȳsa
Related formssneeze·less, adjectivesneez·er, nounsneez·y, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for sneeze

sternutation, gesundheit

Examples from the Web for sneeze

Contemporary Examples of sneeze

Historical Examples of sneeze

  • And they did not dawdle; the poor old woman was packed in, in the time one takes to sneeze.


    Emile Zola

  • "I cannot jest on such a subject," said the Angel, with a sneeze.

    Another Sheaf

    John Galsworthy

  • "I know it did, and must have been the sneeze of a man at that," replied the second scout.

    Boy Scouts on Hudson Bay

    G. Harvey Ralphson

  • Again she was moved to laughter and had to pretend to sneeze.

  • It has not to learn how to do this any more than we have to learn to cough or sneeze.

British Dictionary definitions for sneeze


  1. (intr) to expel air and nasal secretions from the nose involuntarily, esp as the result of irritation of the nasal mucous membrane
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  1. the act or sound of sneezing
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Derived Formssneezeless, adjectivesneezer, nounsneezy, adjective

Word Origin for sneeze

Old English fnēosan (unattested); related to Old Norse fnӯsa, Middle High German fnūsen, Greek pneuma breath
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for sneeze


late 15c., from Old English fneosan "to snort, sneeze," from Proto-Germanic *fneusanan (cf. Middle Dutch fniesen, Dutch fniezen "to sneeze;" Old Norse fnysa "to snort;" Old Norse hnjosa, Swedish nysa "to sneeze;" Old High German niosan, German niesen "to sneeze"), from Proto-Germanic base *fneu-s- "sneeze," of imitative origin, as is PIE *pneu- "to breathe" (cf. Greek pnein "to breathe").

Other imitative words for it, perhaps in various ways related to each other, include Latin sternuere (cf. Italian starnutare, French éternuer, Spanish estornudar), Breton strevia, Sanskrit ksu-, Lithuanian čiaudeti, Polish kichać, Russian čichat'.

English forms in sn- might be due to a misreading of the uncommon fn- (represented in only eight words in Clark Hall, mostly in words to do with breathing), or from Norse influence. OED suggests Middle English fnese had been reduced to simple nese by early 15c., and sneeze is a "strengthened form" of this, "assisted by its phonetic appropriateness." Related: Sneezed; sneezing. To sneeze at "to regard as of little value" (usually with negative) is attested from 1806.

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"act of sneezing," 1640s, from sneeze (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sneeze in Medicine


  1. To expel air forcibly from the mouth and nose in an explosive, spasmodic involuntary action resulting chiefly from irritation of the nasal mucous membrane.
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  1. The act or an instance of sneezing.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.