Cheers! Photo Credit: Flickr user yakobusan. cc
Cheers! Photo Credit: Flickr user yakobusan. cc

There’s no better way to make a stranger feel welcome to your home than to pour a shot/beer/cocktail with them, tip up your glass, and “cheers” them in their native language; likewise, when traveling abroad where the language is different than your own, what better way to make a new local friend than to nod your head in their direction, lift up your drink, and toast in their tongue? (Buying them a drink first, or at least making sure they have one, is probably a useful prerequisite!)

There’s a simple but powerful psychology at work here. When people of two languages meet, there is no meeting halfway; no doubt someone is going to have to either be more knowledgeable about the other’s language, or at least make the effort, if there is ever to be a future communication or friendship. If we only went 50/50, we’d all miss out on valuable opportunities. Also, by speaking even this one word/phrase in a language that you are not entirely familiar with, you are showing a bit of a vulnerable side; sure, people around might giggle or groan at your pronunciation, but hey, that’s laughter, involving you, coming from a stranger’s mouth. And it probably is not mean-spirited, and it most certainly will soften their heart to your cause. This is why I think that just simply extending a toast in another’s language is a great way to endear others to you.

Alright, so this list is based on English, as is this website. I’ll bold the language and italicize the standard word or phrase for a toast, and I’ll (parenthesize) a phonetic pronunciation for it.

Afrikaans – Gesondheid (guh-SUND-hate) “Health.”

Albanian – Gëzuar (GEH-zoo-ar) This roughly translates to “enjoy.”

Amharic [Ethiopia] – Le’tenachin! (leh-TAY-nah-chen) “To our health!”

Arabic [Egyptian] – بصحتك (be suh-HA-ti-ka) “For your health” or في صحتكم (feah suh-HA-ti-koom), which means “good health.”

Arabic [Kuwait] – بالعافية (bil-AH-ah-fee-uh) – “For/to your wellbeing.”

Arabic [Moroccan] – بالصحة (bih-SO-hah) “Health” or بالصحة و الراحة (bih-SO-hah wih RA-ha) “health and comfort.”

Armenian – Կէնաձդ (keh-NODZD)

Azerbaijani – Nuş olsun (noosh OLE-suhn) Don’t quote me on this, as I’ve heard it is similar to “bon appetit.”

Belarusian – Будзьма! (BOODZ-mah) “May we live” or За здароўе (ZA zdah-rooeh) “to health.”

Bosnian – Nazdravlje (NAHZ-drahv-lyeh) “for health” or “God bless you.” You can also say Živjeli (ZHEE-vyeh-lee) for “cheers.”

Bulgarian – Наздраве (naz-DRAH-vey) “To health.”

Burmese – Aung myin par say (ong-MYIHN-pahr-say)

Catalan – Salut (sah-LOOT) “Health” or you can use txin txin (chin chin) which is an onomatopoeic for clinking of glasses, like is popular in Italian.

Chamorro [Guam] – Biba (BEEH-bah)

Chamorro [Northern Marianas] – Hago lao (hah-goh LAO)

Chinese [Mandarin] – 干杯 {gānbēi} (GEHN-bay) a toast that means “empty cup,” comparable to English “bottoms up.”

Croatian – Živjeli (ZHEE-vuh-lee) or Nazdravlje (NAHZ-drahv-lyeh)

Czech – Na zdraví (na ZDRAH-vee) “To health.”

Danish – Skål (skohl) Literally means “bowl,” like one used to drink from.

Dutch – Proost (post {“r” is almost silent}) “May it be good for you/us” or gezondheid (guh-ZOONT-heyt) “to health,” both similar to German.

Dutch [Belgium] – Schol (skohl) From Scandinavian languages, literally meaning “bowl,” like one used to drink from, or santé (sohn-TAY) from the French.

Estonian – Terviseks (TEHR-vih-sex) “For the health.”

English – Cheers! This is the most common one, of course, probably due to its brevity. Another common one is “Bottoms up!

English [Australian, New Zealand] – Scull! (skull) This is another more localized term, though the other English terms are recognized here, as well. Probably derived from Scandinavian Skål, it is used to coerce all involved to tip the glass and consume the entirety of the alcoholic contents. I’ve also had a good Ozzie friend tell me that perhaps it has to do something with “taking it to the face,” or “taking it to the skull/head.”

Filipino/Tagalog – Mabuhay (Mah-BOO-hay) “To life.”

Finnish – Kippis (KEE-peese) A simple “cheers,” but one that requires more explanation is Pohjanmaan kautta! (poh-hahn-mah-yahn kah-OO-tah) which has a long story behind it. It’s a reference to the 1918 Finnish War of Independence. Literally, the phrase means “via Ostrobothnia,” and “Ostrobothnia” is “Pohjanmaa” in Finnish, which is a Finnish province that means “land of the north.” “Pohja” also means “bottom,” so some think that it is similar to English “bottoms up.” Before the war, supporters of Finnish independence trained in Germany and were called “jääkäri” or “Jagers” and they snuck back into Finland via Ostrobothnia. After the war, it became common to propose a toast by asking, “Mistä jääkärit tulivat?” (Where did the Jagers come from?); and the answer became legend, “Pohjanmaan kautta!”

Finnish [Savonian dialects] – Hölökyn kölökyn (HUH-luh-kin KUH-luh-kin)

French – Santé (sohn-TAY) “Health” or cul sec (KYOOH-sec) “dry bottom”, to drink the whole glass at once, such as English “bottoms up.”

Galician – Saúde (SOW-day) “Health.”

Georgian – გაგიმარჯოს! (gah-GEEH-mar-choss) – “Victory.”

German – Prost! (POHST {r is all but silent}) From Latin “prosit” (may it be good (i.e., for you)).

Greek – γεια μας (YAH-mahss) “To our health” or Εβίβα (eh-VEE-vah) from Italian evviva, meaning “long life!”

Hawaiian – Huli pau! (hooh-LEE pow), simple cheers, or you could use Å’kålè ma’luna (oh-KOH-lay mah-LUH-nah) like “bottoms up” but might be considered vulgar by some.

Hebrew – לחיים {L’chaim} (luh HYME) “to life,” traditional Jewish toast, often spelled numerous other ways, including L’Chayyim and Lechaim.

Hungarian – Egészségedre (eg-gesh-SHEH-ged-reh) “to your health,” or sometimes Fenékig (FEHN-eh-keg) which is to drink the whole glass at once, such as English “bottoms up.”

Icelandic – Skál (skohl) Literally means “bowl,” like one used to drink from.

Irish/Gaelic – Sláinte (SLAWN-cheh) Health. Sometimes Sláinte mhaith (SLAWN-cheh WUH) “good health.”

Italian – Salute (sah-LOO-tay) “Health” or you can use cin cin (chin chin) which is an onomatopoeic for clinking of glasses.

Japanese – 乾杯 {kanpai} (kahn-pahy) like “bottoms up,” but literally meaning “dry the glass.”

Korean – 건배 {gunbae} (guhn-BAY) literally “empty cup,” similar to “bottoms up” in English.

Latvian – Priekā (PREEH-ah-kah) “to joy.”

Lithuanian – Į sveikatą (eeh sway-KAH-tah) “to health.”

Macedonian – На здравје {na zdravje} (nah Zdrah-vyeh) “to health.”

Mongolian – Эрүүл мэндийн төлөө (eh-ROOL meen-teen too-soh)

Norwegian – Skål (skohl) Literally means “bowl,” like one used to drink from.

Persian – سلامتي! {be salâmati!} (BEE sah-lah-MAH-tee) – “cheers!”

Polish – Na zdrowie (nah STROH-vee-eh) – “to health.”

Portuguese – Saúde! (sah-OOH-dzeh) – “health.” Also Viva! (VEEH-vah) as in “life” or “hurrah.”

Romanian – Noroc (NOH-rohk) – “good luck” or Sănătate (suh-nuh-TAH-tay) “health.”

Russian – За здоровье {Za zdorov’ye} (zah sdah-ROH-vyah) “for health”/”to your health,” but Russians have so many, some quite specific to the occasion. Ваше здоровье {Vashe zdorov’ye} (VASH-eh zdoh-ROH-vyeh) can mean “for your health” and Будем здоровы {Budem zdorovy} (BUH-dehm zdoh-ROH-vee) is like “let’s stay healthy.”

Scottish Gaelic – Sláinte mhath (SLAWN-cheh WUH) “good health.”

Serbian – Živeli (ZHEE-veh-lee) – “live!” Can also use Nazdravlje “for health.”

Slovak – Na zdravie (nah Zdrah-vyeh) “to health.”

Slovenian – Na zdravje (nah Zdrah-vee) “to health.”

Spanish/Castilian – Salud (sah-LUHD) “health,” or sometimes Chin-Chin (chin chin) which is an onomatopoeic for clinking of glasses.

Spanish [Mexican] – Saludcita (sah-luhd-SEE-tah) diminutive version of “health.”

Swedish – Skål (skohl) Literally means “bowl,” like one used to drink from. Gutår (gooh-TOHR) “good year,” old-fashioned, but still used sometimes in formal settings.

Swiss German – Proscht (POHST {r is all but silent}) – as in German “Prost,” or as diminutive form “Pröschtli.

Thai – ชัยโย (chai yoh) “Hurrah,” or ชนแก้ว (choon-KAH-ew) “let’s toast,” or หมดแก้ว (mohd-KAY-ew) like “bottoms up,”

Turkish – Şerefe (SHEH-reh-feh) “to honor.”

Ukrainian – будьмо (BOOD-moh) something along the lines of “let us be.”

Vietnamese –  (yoh) similar to “take in.” Also Một hai ba, yo (moht hai bah yoh) as in “one, two, three, yo!”

Welsh – Iechyd da (YEKH-id DAH) “Good health.” First part of word is very guttural in sound.

Yiddish – זייט געזונט (ZAYT geh-SOONT) – similar to “goodbye.”

Got any more, or a correction? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll add/fix them!

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