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Living Abroad

15 Funny Polish Phrases that makes no sense in English

Over the past few months on the TransferGo blog we have spotlighted various groups of migrants in the UK.  However, we have not written about an interesting aspect of modern culture; language and phrases. In this case funny polish phrases!

Every country’s language is rich in nuance and idioms. Many of those are incredibly descriptive; others become such a part of the language and culture that they remain part of everyday conversation, even when the underlying meaning is lost or no longer relevant.

Recently we wrote about trading with Poland, where we noted that not only do a large number of Polish nationals live in the UK, but a large number of Brits have migrated to Poland to work as well.  This article prompted us to think of some of the colourful and rich funny Polish phrases that sound somewhat funny to non-Polish people.

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“Do you have a snake in your pocket?”

This phrase is used to describe someone who is considered “cheap” or “tight-fisted” and serves as a possible reason for their not reaching for their cash.

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“Divide the skin while it’s still on the bear” – Every culture has a phrase that extolls the virtue of patience. This phrase is the equivalent to “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

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“When among the crows, caw as the crows do” – This phrase is basically the same as our “When in Rome, do as the Romans”. This is another of the idioms that is found in some form in almost every culture.

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“Not my circus, not my monkeys” – This phrase is one of this writer’s personal favourites and basically means “it’s not my problem.”

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“I was made into a horse” – It seems that every culture looks for a way to make a situation where they were fooled, taken advantage of, or made to look foolish (“taken for a ride”) sound a little less harsh. This is the Polish version.

Horse face

“Has flies up his nose” – A very colourful phrase to describe someone that is sulking or angry.

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“Don’t call the wolf from the forest” – This is the Polish admonition to not tempt fate.

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“Wrap the truth in cotton” – Every culture has people that try to soften the truth or to avoid delivering potentially unpleasant news straight out. Poles call this “wrapping the truth in cotton.”

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“Stick you into a bottle” – Many idioms are fairly easy to figure out. This one, which is the equivalent of “pulling your leg”, is not.

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“Looking for a hole in the whole” – This is the Polish expression for someone who is overly picky or overly pessimistic.

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“Did an elephant stomp on your ear?” – This Polish phrase is used to describe someone such as Florence Foster Jenkins or someone who has no ear for music.

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“Throwing peas onto a wall” – This expression is the equivalent of “falling on deaf ears.”

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“Put up a good face for a bad game” – Poles, much like the British, have a reputation for being a bit stoic. This is their version on “grin and bear it.”

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“Drill a hole in your belly” – This colourful phrase is used to description someone who is bothersome or a pest.

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“It’s a roll with butter” – This simply means that a task or situation is easy.

One of the bonuses of working with our customers at TransferGo and business colleagues across the world is learning about different cultures and languages.  Changes are you have heard a couple of these funny Polish phrases yourself, or perhaps will find a couple that you think are worthy of adding to your word bank.

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2 Responses to “15 Funny Polish Phrases that makes no sense in English”

  1. June 11, 2017 at 7:15 pm, Jendrej said:

    Instead of being made into a horse, you can also became a balloon (robić w balona).
    If you don’t like spending time inside a bottle, you can do it in raspberries (wpuścić w maliny).

    Reply

  2. May 04, 2018 at 2:27 pm, Pao said:

    hi there,

    “Not my circus not my monkeys” refers to the situation when you have no possibility to influence somebody’s behavior whatsoever, especially when that person acts stupidly or is simply stubborn.
    Nethertheless it basically means “not my problem” with an extra “I won’t waste my time to deal with it”
    take care, P

    Reply