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From Middle English snesen (to sneeze), alteration of earlier fnesen (to sneeze), from Old English fnēosan (to sneeze, snort), from Proto-West Germanic *fneusan, from Proto-Germanic *fneusaną, from Proto-Indo-European *pnew- (to breathe, pant, snort, sneeze). Cognate with dialectal Dutch fniezen (to sneeze), Old Norse fnýsa (to snort).

Compare neeze, from Middle English nesen, from Old English *hnēosan (to sneeze), cognate with Old High German niosan (to sneeze), Old Norse hnjósa (to sneeze). See neeze.

It has been suggested that the change could be due to a misinterpretation of the uncommon initial sequence fn- as ſn- (sn- written with a long s),[1][2][3] although the change is regular, seen also in snore and snort from Middle English fnoren and fnorten, and in late Middle English snatted from earlier Middle English fnatted (snub-nosed). The fn- forms of all these words fell out of use in the 1400s.


  • IPA(key): /sniːz/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːz


sneeze (third-person singular simple present sneezes, present participle sneezing, simple past sneezed or (obsolete or humorous) snoze, past participle sneezed or (obsolete or humorous) snozen)

  1. (intransitive) To expel air as a reflex induced by an irritation in the nose.
    To avoid passing on your illness, you should sneeze into your sleeve.
  2. (intransitive) To expel air as if the nose were irritated.
  3. (transitive) To expel or displace (air, snot, etc) from the nose or mouth by the process above.
    • 1924, Hugh Wiley, The Prowler, page 88:
      Lily shook her head violently and sneezed a large blue-bottle fly from where that insect had perched itself on the tip of her nose.
    • 2010, Gunleen Deol, Sleepover Disaster, AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 15:
      When I crossed the road, I sneezed a big achoo! My nose started to feel itchy.
    • 2013, Sarah Hines-Stephens, Jane B. Mason, A Dog and His Girl Mysteries #2: Dead Man's Best Friend, Scholastic Inc., →ISBN:
      I sneezed a big sneeze. It was so big I hit my nose on the sidewalk. Bow-ow. There was a smell in my snout that I wanted to get rid of. And it wasn't Muffet's rotten soup odor, either. That was actually kind of delicious.
    • 2014, Fowler DeWitt, The Contagious Colors of Mumpley Middle School, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 89:
      “Okay,”he said, and sneezed a large drop of pinkish goop. “But you better have a lot to eat! I'll race you upstairs!” Wilmer shook his head. Sherman's hyper energy level seemed to have increased, and that was saying a lot.
    • 2017, Cressida Cowell, How to Train Your Dragon: How to Betray a Dragon's Hero, Hachette Children's, →ISBN:
      Toothless sneezed a large amount of dragon snot right in Hiccup's face.




English Wikipedia has an article on:

sneeze (plural sneezes)

  1. An act of sneezing.
    Synonyms: (medicine) sternutation, (medicine) ptarmus
    Jared's hay fever gives him terrible sneezes.


Derived terms[edit]

from all parts of speech

See also[edit]