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“Scat Cat!” Sneeze Response

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Dexter in Clintonville, Alabama, reports that his Minnesota-born wife was baffled after she sneezed and he responded with Scat cat! Across the American South, this phrase and variations of it serve as an informal response when someone sneezes. Other versions include Scat there, your son bit your tail off!, Scat, cat your tail’s on fire!, Scat cat, get your tail out of the gravy!, Scat cat, get your tail out of the butter! No one’s sure how this expression came to be, although it may have to do with the ancient belief that a sneeze involves releasing an evil spirit from the body. Other ways to wish a sneezer well, of course, include Bless you!, as well as German Geshundheit!, and Spanish ¡Salud!, both of which literally mean “health.” This is part of a complete episode.

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