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Cool Polish Words Every Learner Should Know

A while ago I wrote a post about some of my favourite Polish slang words. This time I am back with cool Polish words every learner should know. Since most of the words aren’t slang, it’s not a big deal if you use them publicly 😉

Let’s start off by acknowledging that what is considered cool is subjective, hence I made sure to pick words that are not only cool in my book but also practical and/or fun to pronounce. Ready?

Cool Polish words

Zamiast – means instead. Which can be incredibly useful when you are ordering your favorite pierogies and want more of the meat-stuffed variety than the cabbage ones. 

“Poproszę więcej pierogów z mięsem zamiast tych z kapustą” or 
“Could I get more meat pierogies instead of those with cabbage?”

“Czy mogę zapłacić kartą zamiast gotówką?”
“Can I pay by card instead of cash?”

“Mieliśmy się tutaj spotkać, ale zamiast tego poszedł na imprezę” or
“We were supposed to meet here, but instead he went to a party”

The third example brings me to my next word. Impreza or party. I think both the spelling and pronunciation are cool (kind of like fiesta in Spanish), plus it’s a word that you will hear often when visiting Poland. 

Fun fact: the word party in Spanish and Polish seems to inspire car manufacturers to name their car models after this fun activity. Eg. Ford Fiesta and Subaru Impreza.

“Gdzie się poznaliście?” (Where did you meet?)
“Na imprezie.” (At a party.)

“Tyle tu ludzi. Co to jest?” (Why are there so many people here?)
“Impreza!” “It’s a party!”. 

Speaking of parties, you might start to wonder when is the best time to have a party in Poland? 
The answer is simple. During the lato!

Lato means summer. It is as easily spelt as it is pronounced, and it is a strongly cherished word among Poles because of what it stands for. Warm, sunny days, colorful, iced drinks, and relaxation!

Sobota or saturday is another word associated with rest – not just in Poland but most of the world. 

“Dzisiaj jest piątek czy sobota?” (Is today Friday or Saturday?)
“Sobota, możemy dalej spać”. (Saturday, we can sleep in). 

One of my personal favorites in terms of cool-sounding Polish words is chrząszcz or beetle. Not only does it only have one vowel, the word can be tricky to pronounce even among native speakers – so much so that it has inspired its own poem/tongue-twister written by Jan Brzechwa which starts like this:

“W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie (In Szczebrzeszyn a beetle sounds in the reeds)
I Szczebrzeszyn z tego słynie.                            (And Szczebrzeszyn is famous for this)
Wół go pyta: „Panie chrząszczu,                         (An ox asks him: “Mister beetle)
 Po cóż pan tak brzęczy w gąszczu?                   (What are you buzzing in the bushes for?”)”

Click here If you want to find out how the rest of it sounds, I challenge you to try to follow along. 

The next two Polish words are żarówka and parówka. They are spelt the same except for the first letter, which also happens to drastically change the meaning. Żarówka is a light bulb while parkówka is a sausage. 

“Dlaczego tak ciemno? Zgasiłeś światło?” (Why is it so dark? Did you turn off the light?”)
“Nie, żarówka się wypaliła”.  (No, the lightbulb died). 

“Masz listę rzeczy do kupienie w sklepie?” (Do you have the shopping list?)
“Tak, parówka, jajko, chleb i majonez”. (Yes. Sausage, eggs, bread and mayonnaise”). 

Another cool Polish word is oscypek,which is smoked sheep-milk cheese, that is also known as Poland’s surprisingly beautiful cheese. While there is no denying that the intricate carvings on the highland cheese are impressive, the taste is very salty, smokey and specific and thus not for everyone. Regardless, if you are visiting Poland it should be on your must-try list, along with meat pierogies, sernik and golabki – to name a few. 

Last but not least is the word uśmiech or smile. The first letter’s shape tends to help Polish learners remember what it stands for which is kind of cool. It’s also a good word to know when you are taking group photos during your trip in Poland as it is used instead of “say cheese”. 


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