Definition of Sternutation

Reviewed on 6/3/2021

Sternutation: Sneezing; the sound of sneezing.

When we sneeze, air is expelled with force from the nose (and from the mouth, if it is open) due to a spasmodic contraction of the chest muscles and diaphragm. A sneeze is often triggered by irritation of the mucous membrane of the nose or less often by a bright light striking the eye.

One of the earliest known uses of the word "sternutation" in English is in a 16th-century book on midwifery, in a passage about infants suffering from frequent "sternutation and sneesynge."

To sneeze in France is to "eternuer." The word has the same roots as sternutation, from the Latin "sternutare" which in turn came from the Latin "sterno" meaning to stretch out, spread out, strew, or scatter.

See also Achoo syndrome.


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