'Prost!': A guide to toasting in Austria

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected] • 30 Nov, 2022 Updated Wed 30 Nov 2022 11:30 CEST
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Whatever you do, don't forget to make eye contact when saying "Prost!" in Austria. (Photo by Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels)

As we head towards the festive season in Austria, there’s a high chance you will be involved in more than one “prost” in the coming weeks. Here’s how to do it properly.

For many people, “prost” is one of the first words they learn in German, which comes in handy as it often comes up in social situations. 

But if you’re new to Austria and wondering what it means, or you simply want to make sure you’re doing it right, here’s a useful guide.

READ ALSO: Austrian traditions: How to celebrate St. Martin’s Day in Austria

What does “prost” mean?

“Prost” is the German equivalent of “cheers”. The word comes from the Latin word “prosit”, which basically means to wish good health before drinking.

Some alternatives to “prost” that you might hear are “zum Wohl” (to good health) or simply “gesund” (healthy).

But whatever you do, try to avoid mixing terms. If someone says “prost” or “zum Wohl”, then say that back.

When is it used?

“Prost” is used in the same way in Austria that you would use “cheers” – when having drinks with other people and clinking glasses.

So you will probably come across it at the pub with colleagues or during a weekend get together with friends. 

You will almost certainly say it before having a beer or schnapps with others.

READ MORE: How did the Wiener Schnitzel become an Austrian icon?

How to say 'prost' – the Austrian way

There are a few rules to be aware of when prost-ing. 

First, make sure you clink your glass with everyone involved in the prost (within reason – if it’s a room full of people at a wedding, for example, just raise your glass and nod your head towards others instead).

READ ALSO: Wiener Weinwandertag: Everything you need to know about Vienna’s ‘Wine Hiking Day’

Second, always maintain eye contact. If there is a group of four people, you will say “prost” and clink the glass of every person while looking them in the eye. This is standard practice and you will be called out if you don’t.

In fact, some Austrians will tell you it is bad luck (or a sentence for "seven years of bad sex") not to look into the eyes of the person you are cheering with. Clinking glasses and making eye contact is an absolute must, then.

Third, do not start drinking until everyone has clinked glasses and said 'prost'. As explained in a guide by Visiting Vienna, not waiting for the prost to finish before taking a swig of beer is like queue jumping in the UK. Terribly rude behaviour that will be noted by everyone else involved.

So get ready to socialise like a local and impress your Austrian friends with your prost etiquette.

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Hayley Maguire 2022/11/30 11:30

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