polish greetings

Funny Polish Words and Phrases

Learning common Polish phrases and idioms can help you communicate with native speakers but will also come in handy when trying to show off your Polish language skills. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at words and expressions that may seem funny to foreigners, e.g., because their literal meaning doesn’t make much sense, and those that may be confusing because, even though they look familiar, they mean something completely different to what you think.

Funniest Polish Tongue Twisters

Every language has those funny phrases that are difficult enough to twist the tongues of even native speakers. That’s where the name ‘tongue twisters’ comes from. They usually consist of difficult-to-pronounce clusters of sounds or combine words with similar sounds that make repeating them confusing. While tongue twisters are not really useful in everyday conversations as, unlike sayings and idioms, they often make little sense or lack any real meaning, mastering them can help you practice Polish pronunciation. Not to mention that any Polish person will definitely be impressed if you manage to get them right!

  • Król Karol kupił królowej Karolinie korale koloru koralowego (English translation: King Carol bought Queen Caroline coral-coloured corals)
  • W czasie suszy, szosa sucha (English translation: In times of drought, the highway is dry)
  • W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie (English translation: In Szczebrzeszyn, a beetle makes a sound in the reeds)
  • Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami (English translation: A table with broken legs)
  • Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz. Chrząszczyrzewoszczyce, powiat Łękołody (It is a false name and place of birth given by the protagonist of a well-known Polish film How I Unleashed World War II)

Funny Polish Sayings and Idioms

Everyday Polish language is full of idioms and sayings that every Polish person will understand right away, but their meaning will not be so obvious to non-natives. The reason for this is simple: such expressions often don’t make much sense when taken out of context or taken literally.

  • Mieć muchy w nosie – To have flies up one’s nose (meaning: to be in bad mood without a reason)
  • Nie wywołuj wilka z lasu – Don’t call the wolf out of the woods (meaning: don’t talk/speak about bad things happening because then they will happen)
  • Bułka z masłem – A roll with butter (meaning: it’s something easy to do)
  • Nieszczęścia chodzą parami – Bad luck walks in pairs (meaning: when something bad happens it’s likely to attract further misfortune)
  • Co dwie głowy, to nie jedna – Two heads are not the same as one (meaning: it’s easier to solve problems/complete tasks when you have help/assistance)
  • Na bezrybiu i rak ryba – When there’s no fish, a crayfish is a fish (meaning: when you can’t have what you want, you have to settle for what is available)
  • Myśleć o niebieskich migdałach – Thinking about blue almonds (meaning: to daydream)
  • Nudne jak flaki z olejem – Boring as tripe in oil (meaning: something very boring)
  • Narobić bigosu – To make bigos (meaning: to complicate something, make it worse)
  • Wiercić komuś dziurę w brzuchu – To drill a hole in one’s belly (meaning: ask for or demand something persistently)
  • Obiecywać gruszki na wierzbie – To promise pears on a willow tree (meaning: to make empty promises)
  • Mówić prosto z mostu – To speak straight from the bridge (meaning: to speak bluntly)
  • Wypchać się sianem – To stuff oneself with hay (meaning: telling someone to get lost)
  • Porywać się z motyką na słońce – To lunge at the sun with a hoe (meaning: to bite off more than one can chew)
  • Gdzie diabeł mówi dobranoc – Where the devil says goodnight (meaning: in the middle of nowhere)
  • Wziąć coś na ząb – To take something on a tooth (meaning: to eat a snack)
  • Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy – Not my circus, not my monkeys (meaning: not my problem, not my business)
  • Brać nogi za pas – To take one’s legs behind their belt/waist (meaning: to run away very fast)

Polish Words That Are False Friends for English Speakers

False friends are words that look or sound similar to words in another language, however, despite these apparent similarities, they have completely different meanings. The results of using such words can range from problems with communication to embarrassing mistakes. That’s why, in order to avoid this kind of linguistic trap, it’s important to always check the meaning of each new Polish word you learn, even if it looks or sounds familiar. Here are a few examples of Polish-English false friends:

  • Actually – Aktualny (meaning: current)
  • Chef – Szef (meaning: boss)
  • Fabric – Fabryka (meaning: factory)
  • Lunatic – Lunatyk (meaning: sleepwalker)
  • Sympathetic – Sympatyczny (meaning: nice, likeable)
  • Dress – Dres (meaning: tracksuit)
  • Ordinary – Ordynarny (meaning: coarse, vulgar)
  • Confident – Konfident (meaning: snitch, informant)

Now you know enough Polish expressions to impress your Polish-speaking friends, and you know that there are some words you need to be wary of in order to avoid awkward pauses in your conversations. If you want to expand your knowledge of the Polish language and hone your skills to become fluent, consider taking an online Polish language course at Polka Dot!

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