This word was chosen in Old English bibles to translate Latin benedicere and Greek eulogein, both of which have a ground sense of "to speak well of, to praise," but were used in Scripture to translate Hebrew brk "to bend (the knee), worship, praise, invoke blessings." L.R. Palmer ("The Latin Language") writes, "There is nothing surprising in the semantic development of a word denoting originally a special ritual act into the more generalized meanings to 'sacrifice,' 'worship,' 'bless,' " and he compares Latin immolare (see immolate).
The meaning shifted in late Old English toward "pronounce or make happy, prosperous, or fortunate" by resemblance to unrelated bliss. Meaning "invoke or pronounce God's blessing upon" is from early 14c. No cognates in other languages. Related: Blessed; blessing.
It forms all or part of: blade; bleed; bless; blood; blow (v.2) "to bloom, blossom;" bloom (n.1) "blossom of a plant;" bloom (n.2) "rough mass of wrought iron;" blossom; cauliflower; chervil; cinquefoil; deflower; defoliation; effloresce; exfoliate; feuilleton; flora; floral; floret; florid; florin; florist; flour; flourish; flower; foil (n.) "very thin sheet of metal;" foliage; folio; folium; gillyflower; Phyllis; phyllo-; portfolio; trefoil.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek phyllon "leaf;" Latin flos "flower," folio, folium "leaf;" Middle Irish blath, Welsh blawd "blossom, flower;" Gaelic bile "leaflet, blossom;" Old English blowan "to flower, bloom."
1914, from German Gesundheit, literally "health!", from Old High German gisunt, gisunti "healthy" (see sound (adj.)). Also in the German toast auf ihre Gesundheit "to your health." God bless you after someone sneezes is credited to St. Gregory the Great, but the pagan Romans (Absit omen) and Greeks had similar customs.