Four Words English Needs to Borrow from the Polish Language!

The scenic land of Poland has plenty of breath-taking castles and harrowing pieces of history that changed the course of the world. Around the globe, two of their most famous foods serve as breakfast and dinner table staples (the bagel and the pierogi!). Maybe it's time that we took some linguistic cues from the country as well, adopting these words that capture feelings or descriptions of moments we've all experienced.


Pachnieć: In Polish, this literally means, "nice-smelling." Sure, in English you can give something a clunky mouthful of a description, saying, "Wow, that's nice-smelling," but to the natives of this Slavic language, just a calm sniff of fresh-baked cookies, followed by the word "pachnieć" sends kind sentiments to the chef.


If you just got passed over for your dream job for the boss's best buddy, maybe you are looking for an eloquent way to explain what happened. In Polish, this situation's name is, "załatwić." This means that someone received something, such as cash or a job, due to his friendship status with someone in power. If English had such a word, this could save people who've endured this experience from grumbling a string of insults. The Poles wouldn't waste their breath; they'd call it what it is!

Pocałować klamkę

If you go to visit someone, only to find out they aren't home, you probably aren't going to "pocałować klamkę." This phrase literally means, "to kiss the door handle." We all know the feelings involved in this disappointing situation, yet the English language doesn't have an expression for this common situation of showing up too late or at the wrong time. However, in Polish, telling someone you were kissing a door handle will evoke feelings of empathy, as the listener will know exactly what you mean.


If you're a stickler for being on-time, this word is for you! "Dopiero" is the Polish adverb that describes something occurring later than expected. This word is acutely different from the word "późno," which means, "late," because "dopiero" highlights the feeling of unfulfilled expectations.

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Dave Child

Dave is the founder of, and has been building websites since the early 90s. He's one of those fortunate people who gets to do what he loves for a living.


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