From Middle English snesen (to sneeze), alteration of earlier fnesen (to sneeze), from Old English fnēosan (to snort, sneeze), from Proto-West Germanic *fneusan, from Proto-Germanic *fneusaną (to sneeze, snort), 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 to Old Norse hnjósa (to sneeze), Old High German niosan (to sneeze).

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 (nonstandard) snoze, past participle sneezed or (nonstandard) snozen)

  1. (intransitive) To expel air as a reflex induced by an irritation in the nose.
  2. (intransitive) To expel air as if the nose were irritated.


Derived termsEdit



English Wikipedia has an article on:

sneeze (plural sneezes)

  1. An act of sneezing.
    Synonyms: sternutation (medicine), ptarmus (medicine)


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ sneeze”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  2. ^ sneeze” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2021.
  3. ^ word histories: sneeze