Cheers! in 15+ Languages of the World

A coaster with the word "cheers" written in many languages of the world

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This post is for people curious about Erik and Joe‘s popular “Cheers!” coaster. If you are looking for information about Russell Jones Real Estate, click RJRE for the main page or Contact to request your coaster pack or send an inquiry.

How Does the World Say “Cheers”?

In cultures around the world, people clink their glasses of alcohol together in friendship. Curious about how to say “cheers” in other languages, Erik and Joe put together a coaster with translations in many languages. That coaster has a QR code to this post so people can learn how to pronounce those words and learn a little more about other cultures.

Here are the words going clockwise around the Cheers coaster. We’ve also included some of our favorite videos describing these words. At the very bottom, there are some bonus words not on the coaster. Check them out!

1. cheers /tʃɪɹz/ —English

The Oxford English Dictionary records the earliest use of the English noun “cheer” in 1225 meaning “expression on a person’s face.”

The earliest citation given for the exclamation “cheers” used when drinking is 1930. According to the OED, the Sunday Times in Perth, Australia, wrote “Cheers, dears!” on September 14, 1930. A toast to Perth!!

For the pronunciation of “cheers,” see Wiktionary, which has three sound files with US, UK, and Australian pronunciations.

2. לחיים /leˈχa jim/ —‎Hebrew

According to Wiktionary, this is properly accented on the last syllable, but putting an accent on the second syllable has become more common due to the influence of Yiddish. Literally, this means “to life.”

For a sound file of the pronunciation, see Forvo. Also check out the video below by Hebrew With Ben:

3. haʔɫ /haʔɫ/ —Lushootseed

Meaning “good,” this Lushootseed word can also mean “cheers.” Lushootseed is a native language spoken in the Puget Sound region, mainly to the east of Puget Sound. Lushootseed is written the way it is pronounced using the International Phonetic Alphabet.

In the word “haʔɫ,” the ʔ symbol represents the sound represented by the hyphen in “uh-oh,” known as a glottal stop. The ɫ (barred-l) symbol is made by holding your tongue as if you’re making a “t” sound and then blowing out of the sides of your mouth.

You can see this word being used in the “Greetings and departures” video by the Puyallup Tribal Language.

Land Acknowledgment: Russell Jones Real Estate acknowledges that we are located on ancestral lands of the Duwamish People, the first people of Seattle, and honor with gratitude the land, water, Duwamish, and Coastal Salish. We also recognize that this Land Acknowledgment is only a small step in a long process of understanding and awareness of many historical wrongs. We are committed to supporting the Duwamish People and other indigenous peoples of these lands in maintaining and reviving their cultural practices and languages.

4. salud /saˈlud/ or /saˈluð̞/ —Spanish

Meaning health, this Spanish expression of good wishes is well known and can often be heard from people who don’t speak Spanish. Especially in Spain, you will sometimes hear this word ending with the ð̞ or “th” sound.

Check out Forvo for a variety of pronunciations.

5. 건배 /kʌ̹nbɛ/ ~ /kʌ̹nbe̞/—Korean

Coming from Chinese (#12 below), this expression means “dry the drinking cup.” A rough approximation of the pronunciation is “kohmbeh.”

For the pronunciation, check out this post from 90 Day Korean. You’ll see they spell this as geonbae but pronounce it more like “kohmpeh.” Don’t fret about the difference between g/k and b/p. Korean consonants have interesting properties and don’t correspond well to English consonants.

If you want to learn more about the fascinating world of the Korean language, start with “Telling Apart ㄱ/ㅋ/ㄲ ,” a video by Your Korean Saem on the “k kh kk” series of Korean consonants.

6. prost /pʁoːst/ —German

Meaning “health,” this German word can be found as the name of a German bar on Phinney Ridge. Check out Prost! and make sure you don’t forget the exclamation mark in the name!

For something more formal, try zum Wohl /t͡sʊm ˈvoːl/, meaning “to health.”

Listen to the pronunciation of “prost” by a native speaker in the video “Clinking Cups: How to say ‘Cheers!’ in German!” below.

If that has you wanting to practice your German “r” sound, check this out this video where Francesco from Italy asks native German speakers for their help!

7. будьмо /ˈbu dʲ mɔ/ —Ukrainian

After exclaiming будьмо, wait for your friends to shout “hey” back to you. Do it again and after you get another “hey!” back, shout out будьмо three times in rapid succession. You’ll get three exclamations of “hey” back to you to round out this cheerful toast. This manner of toasting is said to be a Cossack tradition.

For help with pronunciation, see the Wiktionary page for будьмо. Also check out this video by Ukraine City Tours, which busts some myths about Ukrainians. The pronunciation of будьмо is given at about the 2:30 mark.

8. na zdrowie /na ˈzdrɔ.vjɛ/ —Polish

The Polish expression means “to health” or “for health.” See Wiktionary for an audio clip of this word.

Polish belongs to the Slavic family of languages, and other similar Slavic expressions include “na zdraví” in Czech and “na zdravie” in Slovak.

In all three languages, the respective expressions can also mean “bless you” after someone sneezes.

9. 乾杯 /kam pai/ —Japanese

This is borrowed from the same Chinese (#12 below) word as Korean. Check out this Forvo page for sample pronunciations by native speakers.

Also check out this video on formal sake tasting. Although the word 乾杯 isn’t used, a number of other manners are discussed—including when to take off any rings that you’re wearing!

10. sláinte /ˈsˠl̪ˠɑːn̠ʲtʲə/ —Irish

Like so many other expressions around the world, this Irish toast means “health.” When Saint Patrick’s Day comes around, check out the video “Sláinte” below to make sure you pronounce it correctly! (Is there a pinching penalty for getting it wrong on March 17th, or is that just for not wearing green??? ☘️)

11. cincin /t͡ʃinˈt͡ʃin/ —Italian

This word is today considered onomatopoeic, meaning the pronunciation is related to the meaning (like “woof” or “sizzle”). In this case, Italians hear in the word “cincin” the sound of two glasses clinking.

However, the word “cincin” actually comes from Cantonese, 請請 (cing2 cing2), or “please please.” Borrowed by sailors, it became a common greeting that eventually made its way to the wine glass.

In Italian, the letter “c” makes the “ch” sound before “i,” so pronounce this like “cheen cheen.”

Here’s a great video about how to say “cincin.” Lucrezia follows cincin with “salute” (health), and then talks about “alla vostra” (to you all) and a number of variations, such as “alla tua” (to you) and “alla nostra” (to us).

The word cincin is also used in French, though the spelling is “tchin-tchin.”

12. 干杯 /gān bēi/ —Mandarin

“Dry the cup!” is the Mandarin version, an expression found also in English as “bottoms up!” Both Korean (#5 above) and Japanese (#9) have borrowed this expression from China and use it to this day.

Here’s a great video on different ways to say “cheers” in Mandarin from the Silk Mandarin Language Institute. It also includes sample sentences with the verb 敬 jìng, meaning “to respect.”

13. ASL

cheers fingerspelled

Here is the word “cheers” spelled using the manual alphabet for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing. Fingerspelling is a convenient way to convey English words with the hands.

While fingerspelling is used in ASL, or American Sign Language, it is only a part of it. ASL uses thousands of signs. See Signing Savvy for a video of how to make the sign for “cheers” in ASL!

14. kippis /ˈkipːis/—Finnish

Coming from the German word “kippen” meaning to “tilt,” the original German expression is die Gläser kippen, or tilt back the glasses. See Wiktionary for an audio recording of kippis.

This Coffee Break Languages video gives examples of how this is pronounced. Skip to the one-minute mark to jump right in!

 


Other Ways to Say “Cheers”

Still want more? Here are ways to say “cheers” in yet other languages.

15. tagay —Tagalog

Although often given as the Tagalog word for “cheers,” according to Gideon Lasco, this word means to give alcohol to a group of people, one at a time, using the same drinking cup. Because people in the Philippines traditionally drink alcohol in turn from the same glass, there is no tradition of clinking glasses. When the situation calls for this imported custom, the English “cheers” or Japanese “kampai” is generally used.

For help with the pronunciation, see Forvo.

16. skål /skoːl/—Danish, Norwegian, Swedish

Three languages in one! This Scandinavian toast word comes from Old Norse “skál” meaning “bowl.” See Forvo for a sampling of native pronunciations. Here’s a YouTube short by Preben ́s Norwegian community.

Skál continues to be used for “cheers” in Faroese, where it is pronounced /ˈskɔɑːl/ and in Icelandic as /skauːl/. See Forvo for native pronunciations of these Faroese and Icelandic versions.

Cheers!

In whatever language you say it and regardless of how you say it, please drink responsibly. We wish you good cheer and don’t forget to Contact us to request your coaster pack!

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