Improve your Polish conversations with idioms!

Idioms are phrases that have a non-literal meaning. Knowing them will help you to enrich your Polish conversations. From the following article, you’ll learn some of the Polish idioms.


Why should you learn Polish idioms?

While talking to native speakers, you’ll eventually encounter idioms. Without knowing them you’ll not be able to understand what another person meant. And since their meaning often cannot be deducted from the context – you must memorize them.

Idioms are a part of everyday language. The best method to learn a lot of them is total immersion. Being constantly exposed to a common language will help you acquire multiple Polish idioms in various contexts. 

Polish idioms: Już po ptakach

The literal translation would be: “It’s already after the birds”. Sound enigmatic, doesn’t it? If a Pole uses this phrase, they mean that something is irreversibly over. In most cases, this idiom is used in a pessimistic context. For example – when a big chance was missed. Or a relationship ended.

Four birds flying, a see and sky in the background - Polish idioms

Polish idioms: Mieć coś w małym palcu

Literally, it means „to have something in a small finger”. But have what? Your bones, muscles, and veins? Of course not! When Polish people say it, they mean someone knows a subject in and out. This idiom is used as praise for someone’s knowledgeability.

Polish idioms: Mieć węża w kieszeni

„To have a snake in your pocket”? Doesn’t it belong in an aquarium? It does, but by these words, Polish people mean someone is a miser. 

Polish idioms: Ręka rękę myje

“One hand washes another”. If you’re an English native speaker, you may be familiar with this idiom. But in the Polish language, it has a completely different meaning. It is very negative, as it means that some people support each other in a sinister effort. This idiom may be very challenging to pronounce. It contains 3 “ę”, a tricky Polish sound.

Woman washing hands under a water

Polish idioms: Piąte koło u wozu

When translated literally, it means „A fifth wheel in a carriage”. But a carriage only has four wheels. Why would someone need the fifth one? They wouldn’t. And that’s what this means! By these words, Polish people mean that something or someone is unnecessary. 


In this article, we gave you a short list of some Polish idioms. During a Polish language course or online Polish group class at our school, we’ll take care of learning them for you. We want you to speak Polish as best as you possibly could. In the near future, we’ll post more Polish idioms you should know.