Polish Expressions That Improve Your Cross-Cultural Communication

Three men in casual clothing are laughing together with a setting sun in the background

Idioms and expressions often reflect a country’s unique culture, and Poland is no exception. In May we wrote the blog post How to Speak Like a Local: Polish Slang. Now you can add these phrases to better your cross-cultural communication while living in Poland.

A good starting place is the versatile term “ojej” or “ojejku,” which locals use to express emotions from joy to panic. You can exclaim “ojej” if you receive an unexpected raise at work, or if you walk outside and realize your car was stolen. 

When offering friends encouragement you can say, “jak nie jak tak!” The exact translation is “how not when yes.” While it sounds clunky in English, it means "Of course you’re going to accomplish your goal. You’re so capable!"

Like many languages, Polish has many idioms that center around food. If someone is overpromising something, they’re “gruszki na wierzbie” or promising “pears on a willow.” A person who runs away from a situation in a hurry can be described as “uciekać gdzie pieprz rośnie,” meaning “running where the pepper grows.”

In Poland, you don’t say someone is daydreaming, you say they are “thinking of blue almonds” or “myśleć o niebieskich migdałach.” If you happen to meet someone who acts like a know it all, you might say they “pozjadać wszystkie rozumy” or ate all wits.”

There are a few popular expressions that include “no.” “No co ty,” can be mean “Don’t exaggerate,” or if you’re been sarcastic, “Are you crazy?”

“No nie,” is the equivalent of “Oh no!” When used in the phrase “no nie wiem,” it means “I don’t know.”

“No ba,” translates to “indeed,” but it is used more casually to say “duh” to something obvious.

Learn More:
10 Ultra Meaningful Polish Expressions 
20 of the Funniest Polish Phrases