Cheers in Different Languages: 20 Ways to Make a Toast + Cultural Notes
Being social and experiencing local food and drink are integral parts of world travel.
And no matter where we go, the gesture of raising a glass and proclaiming “cheers” is globally recognized.
Here, you’ll learn how to say cheers in different languages, including phonetic pronunciations based on the American accent.
So, let’s fill up those glasses and learn how to raise them as the locals do.
- 1. Afrikaans: Gesondheid
- 2. Chinese: 干杯 (gān bēi)
- 3. Czech: Na zdraví
- 4. Danish: Skål
- 5. Dutch: Proost
- 6. Finnish: Kippis
- 7. French: À votre santé
- 8. German: Prost
- 9. Greek: Υγεία (ygeia)
- 10. Hebrew: לחיים (l’chaim)
- 11. Italian: Salute
- 12. Japanese: 乾杯 (かんぱい)
- 13. Korean: 건배 (geon-bae)
- 14. Polish: Na zdrowie
- 15. Portuguese: Saúde
- 16. Russian: За здоровье (saa zdorovie)
- 17. Spanish: Salud
- 18. Thai: โชคดี (chok di)
- 19. Turkish: Şerefe
- 20. Vietnamese: Một, hai, ba, vô
- The Origins of Toasting
- Modern Drinking Etiquette Around the World
1. Afrikaans: Gesondheid
How to say it: ge-SOOND-heit
This “cheers” literally translates to “health.” As you’ll see, this is a recurring theme when it comes to toasting in different languages!
2. Chinese: 干杯 (gān bēi)
How to say it: gan-bay
The Chinese say “dry the cup” when they raise a glass.
3. Czech: Na zdraví
How to say it: naz-DRAH-vee
When the Czech clink glasses, they call out “to health!”
Maintain eye contact when you say this cheers, as the lack of eye contact is interpreted as a lack of respect.
In fact, this is a common understanding in most European countries when you say cheers.
4. Danish: Skål
How to say it: skoll
This cheers is the same in Iceland and Sweden as well. It directly translates to “bowl,” “basin” or “dish.”
5. Dutch: Proost
How to say it: prOST
This toast is generally not used when drinking wine. In fact, if a cheers is to be made with wine, the Dutch often use the French word for cheers (see below).
6. Finnish: Kippis
How to say it: KEEP-pees
Finnish shipbuilders brought this toast into popularity!
According to legend, when Finnish sailors made their way to England in the 10th century, they liked to frequent pubs. Pub owners asked them to “keep the peace”—which the Fins happily embraced by yelling out “kippis” (keep peace) with every drink they received.
7. French: À votre santé
How to say it: a VOT-re SAN-tay
This is the formal way to offer cheers in France. It’s also common to just say santé (health).
Make sure you don’t cross glasses with someone when you’re toasting, otherwise you might be cursed with seven years of bad luck!
8. German: Prost
How to say it: pOST
This German toast is only used for informal occasions, like when you’re drinking beer at the pub with your buddies.
If you want to toast during a birthday party, wedding or another type of special occasion, there are specific formal cheers for those.
9. Greek: Υγεία (ygeia)
How to say it: ee-hYA
The word used for “cheers” in Greek is another that literally means “health.”
10. Hebrew: לחיים (l’chaim)
How to say it: le HA-yim
This Hebrew toast translates as “to life!”
11. Italian: Salute
How to say it: sa-LU-tay
Italians may also use a la vita (to life) when they raise a glass.
12. Japanese: 乾杯 (かんぱい)
How to say it: kan-pai
For the Japanese, it’s customary to toast by saying “dry the glass,” just like the Chinese.
13. Korean: 건배 (geon-bae)
How to say it: kon-beh
Like in Japanese and Chinese, this is the Korean call to “empty the glass.”
14. Polish: Na zdrowie
How to say it: NAZ-drov-ye
If you want to say “cheers” like the locals in Poland, do so with the national drink, vodka.
The most common way to drink vodka in Poland is in shot form, followed by a chaser, if you need one.
15. Portuguese: Saúde
How to say it: sa-OO-deh (Portugal), sa-OOJ (Brazil)
The literal translation is “health,” which is the most common cheers in Portuguese.
In a formal setting, the host is the one who should propose a toast.
16. Russian: За здоровье (saa zdorovie)
How to say it: za ZDOR-ov-ye
Toasting with vodka is a big part of the drinking culture in Russia. Don’t forget to yell out “to health!” in Russian.
There’s also this variation: Будем здоровы (Let’s be healthy!)
17. Spanish: Salud
How to say it: sa-LOOD
If you’re going to say “cheers” in Spanish, make sure you have an alcoholic drink.
If you don’t, you’ll (allegedly) be cursed with seven years of bad luck in bed!
18. Thai: โชคดี (chok di)
How to say it: chokh dee
This is a casual toast that means “good luck!”
19. Turkish: Şerefe
How to say it: sheh-re-FEH
Most commonly used when toasting with alcoholic beverages, this Turkish word literally means “to honor.”
20. Vietnamese: Một, hai, ba, vô
How to say it: mohd, hai, bah, voh
In Vietnam, toasting is done with this little counting phrase, which literally translates to “one, two, three, cheers!”
The Origins of Toasting
There are plenty of stories about the origins of toasting, but it’s hard to say which are correct. They do make for fun reading, however, so let’s check out a couple!
Many believe the toast originated to determine whether the glass of liquid refreshment you’d been given was poisoned.
You were meant to touch your glass to the host’s glass hard enough to slosh some liquid from your drink into theirs. Both glasses would then be tainted, which would probably discourage a host from poisoning their guests.
Great theory, but there’s no substantial evidence to prove this.
In ancient Rome, toasting to the well-being and continued health of the Emperor was mandated by the senate. Emperor Augustus lived to a ripe old age, so maybe all of those good wishes worked in his favor!
Shakespeare’s classic “Merry Wives of Windsor” includes a toast—literally! During this epic drama, a piece of toast is put into a drink before the glass is raised.
Some other old, superstitious stories are still in circulation. They do add some fun and laughter to a celebration—and that’s the point of celebrating, isn’t it?
One of my favorite stories involves the belief that touching glasses together in a toast and making that glass-on-glass clink noise will chase away demons, bad spirits and other malevolent entities.
Modern Drinking Etiquette Around the World
Drinking etiquette has changed a bit since Emperor Augustus and Shakespeare were around.
Today, travelers can expect different experiences depending on where they are.
In Iceland, locals devote a whole weekend every year to drinking and celebrating. Verslunarmannahelgi (Shopkeepers Weekend) offers plenty of opportunities to toast everything Icelandic—and visitors are encouraged to raise a bottle of Lava, one of the country’s well-loved beers.
In Korea, it’s customary to accept a drink with both hands—never one, which is considered impolite. Also, if an elder offers you a drink, it’s best to accept and try to empty the glass. That’ll put you in a favorable light with your host!
In Sweden, wedding receptions have an actual toastmaster who is in charge of setting up guests to make congratulatory toasts to the newlywed couple. It’s a super nice custom to enhance an already joyful celebration!
In Azerbaijan, there’s an elaborate toasting tradition. The host of an event stands, raises a glass and says a few words. Everyone drinks their glass to empty. Cups are refilled, and then the person seated beside the host makes a brief toast. This goes on around the table, with every guest drinking a glass after every toast. What a festive way to celebrate!
While toasting is a long-standing event, practices can change over time.
But regardless of culture or location, wishing wealth, health and good fortune never goes out of style. You’ll see this when you watch movies, TV shows and other modern clips in the language you’re interested in.
To see the usage of these well-wishes, FluentU has tons of authentic videos with interactive subtitles so you can understand the context.
With 10 languages available, the program also caters to your learning needs by building vocabulary through multimedia flashcards and developing communication skills through quizzes.
Learn the expressions in this post and travel around the world—one cheer at a time!