How to Say “Cheers” in 10 Different Languages

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(Image credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez)

New Year’s Eve means a lot of different things to different people across the globe, but one thing stays true for just about everyone: It’s a time to celebrate and reflect. And while stateside we like to ring in the New Year with champagne and a congenial “cheers,” different cultures around the world have their own distinct celebratory toasts.

So in honor of NYE, we rounded up 10 different “cheers”-style greetings from across the globe. While they all don’t literally translate to “bottoms up,” most are the go-to drink-clinking greeting for their respective region. From an old-school Spanish “salud” to a typical Korean toast, read ahead to see how to say “cheers” in 10 different languages.

Cheers in Japanese: 乾杯 / Kanpai

Pronounced: Kan-pie
Translation: “Cheers” or “Dry Cup” or “Empty the glass”

In Japan, an enthusiastic “kanpai!,” which translates to empty cup, isn’t just a celebratory way to cheer, it’s a respected pre-drinking ritual. So New Year’s Eve or not, don’t even think about chugging a beer (or sake) in Japan before everyone at your table has said: “Kan-pie!”

Cheers in Spanish: Salud

Pronounced: Sah-lud
Translation: “Health”

While you might have already known that most Spanish-speaking countries like to clink their drinks to a cheerful “Salud!,” it seems the saying is popular for more than just a festive toast. You see, “Salud” literally translates to “health” so it’s used to wish others good health and prosperity—which means you’re just as likely to hear someone say it after you sneeze as you would to ring in the New Year.

Cheers in German: Prost

Pronounced: Prohst
Translation: “Cheers”

If you’ve ever spent time in Germany (or an Oktoberfest event for that matter), chances are you’ve heard the term “Prost” loud and clear. The most popular way to toast in German-speaking countries, saying “Prost” is all but mandatory before knocking back a beer.

Cheers in French: Santé! / À votre santé!

Pronounced: Sahn-tay / Ah vo-tre sahn-tay
Translation: “To your health”

Whether you’re sitting next to your boss or a stranger at the bar, if you want to make a toast in France, you say: “Santé!,” which translates to “health.” Okay to use in both formal and informal settings, you can also say “À votre santé!,” which is the more polite way to say “to your health.”

Cheers in Portuguese: Saúde

Pronounced: Saw-OO-de
Translation: Health

Similar to the French “Santé!” and Spanish “Salud!,” the Portuguese prefer to drink to each other’s health by saying “Saúde!” instead of simply saying “cheers.” So the next time you’re about to enjoy a cachaça in Brazil, remember to say “Saúde” before you start drinking.

Cheers in Korean: 건배 / Geonbae

Pronounced: Gun-bae
Translation: “Empty glass”

In Korea, the word 건배 (or geonbae) literally means “empty glass”, making it similar to the stateside expression “bottoms up”. And while the word implies that you should drink the whole of your drink after toasting, it’s not actually necessary.

Cheers in Swedish: Skål

Pronounced: Skawl
Translation: “Cheers”

Not only is it customary to say “skål” (i.e. “cheers”) before toasting and taking a drink in Sweden, you’re supposed to look everyone in your party directly in the eye—both before and after you take a drink—to practice proper Swedish social etiquette.

Cheers in Afrikaans: Gesondheid

Pronounced: Ge-sund-hate
Translation: “Health”

While the term “cheers” is commonly used in English-speaking parts of South Africa, the Afrikaan-speaking population has their own term to toast to: “Gesondheid.” The word literally translates to “health” and sounds an awful lot like the German word for “health” (“gesundheit”), which isn’t all that surprising considering the Afrikaans language has Dutch roots.

Cheers in Chinese (Mandarin): 干杯 / Gānbēi

Pronounced: Gan-bay
Translation: “Cheers” or “dry cup”

Similar in sound to the go-to toast of the Japanese and Koreans, the popular way to cheer in China is to say “gānbēi”, which translates specifically to “dry cup.”

Cheers in Greek: Υγεία / Yamas

Pronounced: Ya-Mas
Translation: “Health”

If you ever plan on toasting someone in Greece (and why the heck wouldn’t you?), know that it’s customary to clink your glasses and say “Yamas.” The phrase literally translates to “health” and much like the toasting traditions of nearby European countries, is a way to wish good health and prosperity to your drinking buddies.

Caroline Biggs


Caroline is a writer living in New York City. When she’s not covering art, interiors, and celebrity lifestyles, she’s usually buying sneakers, eating cupcakes, or hanging with her rescue bunnies, Daisy and Daffodil.