Polish proverbs

From Quotes
Every revolutionary idea seems to evoke three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases: (1) It's completely impossible. (2) It's possible, but it's not worth doing. (3) I said it was a good idea all along.
Arthur C. Clarke
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Collection of Polish proverbs ordered by alphabet: Polish original proverbs are here accompanied with English translations.

WARNING!!! Mostly Word for Word translations!!! UWAGA!!! Głównie tłumaczenia dosłowne!!!


A - B - C - D - E - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - R - S - T - V - W - Z


B

  • Baba z wozu, koniom lżej
    • Word-for-word translation: When a woman has got off a wagon, horses have an easier time
    • Meaning: It's all the better when an unhelpful person gets out of the way.
    • English equivalent: Lighten your load!
  • Bez pracy nie ma kołaczy
    • Word-for-word translation: No labour, no oilcakes
    • Latin equivalent: Sine labore non erit panis in ore
    • English equivalent: No pain, no gain
  • Bredzi jak Piekarski na mękach
    • Word-for-word translation: S/he talks gibberish like tortured Piekarski
    • Meaning: S/he's lying.
  • Bogatemu to i diabeł dzieci kołysze
    • Word-for-word translation: A rich man even has the devil to lull his children
    • Meaning: All circumstances always turn advantageous for a rich man, in contrast to the poor man, who is always unlucky. Money eases the way to everything.
    • English equivalent: The rich man gets his ice in the summer and the poor man gets his in the winter
  • Bez soli smutna biesiada
    • Word-for-word translation: Without salt the feast is spoiled
    • English equivalent: Salt is the spice of life!

C

  • Czekaj, tatka, latka
    • Word-for-word translation: Wait for years, daddy
    • Latin equivalent: Ad calendas Graecas (until Greek calendas) - i.e. until never (the Greeks did not celebrate the day of calendas)
    • English equivalent: You can wait till the cows come home

D

  • Duch chętny, lecz ciało mdłe
    • English equivalent: The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak
  • Dobrego i karczma nie zepsuje, a złego i kościół nie naprawi
    • Word-for-word translation: A good man even in a tavern won't be spoiled, a wicked one even in the church won't mend their ways
  • Dobry żart tynfa wart
    • Word-for-word translation: A good joke is worth a tynf (an old Polish penny)
    • Meaning: A compliment for a good joke.
  • Dopóty dzban wodę nosi, dopóki mu się ucho nie urwie
    • Word-for-word translation: A jug carries water until its handle breaks off

G

  • "Gdy kota nie ma, myszy harcują"
    • English equivalent: When the cat's away the mice will play
  • Gdy pies je, to nie szczeka, bo mu miska ucieka
    • Word-for-word translation: When the dog eats, he doesn't bark, or his food will run away
    • Meaning: Don't talk with your mouth full.
  • Gdzie kucharek sześć, tam nie ma co jeść
    • Word-for-word translation: Where there are six cooks, there is nothing to eat
    • German equivalent: Viele Köche verderben den Brei
    • English equivalent: Too many cooks spoil the broth
  • Gadał dziad do obrazu, a obraz do niego ani razu
    • Word-for-word translation: A beggar talked to a picture, but picture answered nothing
    • English equivalent: Like talking to the wall
  • Gdy się człowiek spieszy, to się diabeł cieszy
    • Word-for-word translation: When a man is in a hurry, the devil is happy
    • English equivalent: Haste makes waste
  • Gdzie diabeł nie może, tam babę pośl
    • Word-for-word translation: Where the Devil can't go, he'll send a woman
    • Meaning: Women often cause trouble.
  • Gdzie drwa rąbią, tam wióry lecą
    • Word-for-word translation: Where wood is being chopped, shavings fly
    • English equivalent: Where there's smoke, there's fire
  • Gdzie dwóch się bije, tam trzeci korzysta
    • Word-for-word translation:
      • Where two people fight against each other, the third one wins
      • Where two are fighting (arguing, suing); it is another who benefits
  • Gdzie zgoda tam i siła
    • English version: With unity there is strength
  • Gość w dom - Bóg w dom
    • Word-for-word translation: Guest coming into house - God coming into house (essence of Polish hospitality)
    • Meaning: A guest in the house, is like God in the house
  • Grosz do grosza, a będzie kokosza
    • Word-for-word translation: Add up your pennies, and buy a hen
    • English equivalent:
      • Every penny adds up
      • A penny saved is a penny earned [Benjamin Franklin]

I

  • I Herkules dupa, kiedy wrogów kupa
    • Word-for-word translation (vulgar): Even Hercules is an arsehole, when he must fight against heaps of enemies
    • Latin version: Nec Hercules contra plures
  • Idzie luty, podkuj buty
    • Word-for-word translation: When February comes, hobnail your shoes

J

  • Jak Kuba Bogu, tak Bóg Kubie
    • Word-for-word translation: As Jake treats God, God will treat Jake
    • English equivalent: Turnaround is fair play
  • Jak sobie pościelesz, tak się wyśpisz

True spelling: Jak sobie pościelisz, tak się wyśpisz

    • Word-for-word translation: You rest the way you have made your bed
    • English equivalent: As ye sow, so shall ye reap

K

  • Kowal zawinił a Cygana powiesili
    • Word-for-word translation: The blacksmith was guilty, but they hanged the Gypsy
  • Kruk krukowi oka nie wykole
    • Word-for-word translation: The crow won't peck an eye of another crow
  • Kto daje i zabiera ten się w piekle poniewiera
    • Translation: Who gives and then takes it back goes to hell (is mistreated in hell).
  • Kto rano wstaje, temu Pan Bóg daje
    • Meaning: He who gets up early, is rewarded by God.
    • German: Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund.
    • English: The early bird gets the worm.
  • Kto szybko daje, dwa razy daje
    • Latin version: Bis dat, qui cito dat
    • English translation: He who gives quickly gives twice.
  • Każdego ciągnie do złego
    • Translation: Everyone is tempted to evil.
  • Kropla do kropli i będzie morze
    • Translation: Drop after drop, there will be a sea
    • English equivalent: In unity, there is strength
  • Kto ma sadło temu snadno
  • Kto ucieka, winnym sie˛ staje
    • Translation: Running away makes you guilty.
  • Kuj żelazo, póki gorące
    • German translation: Das Eisen schmieden, solange es heiss ist.
    • English equivalent:
      • Strike while the iron is hot
      • Make hay while the sun shines
  • Kto nie słucha Ojca i Matki, ten sie słucha psiej skóry
    • Translation: Who is not (listening to) obeying their parents, is listening to dogs skin
    • Meaning: If you don't learn from your parents, you'll learn from the school of hard knocks.

L

  • Lepiej późno niż wcale
    • English equivalent: Better late than never
  • Lepsza jedna panna, niż cztery wdowy
    • Translation: One maiden is better than four widows.
  • Los szczęście rzuca, ale nie każdy je łapie
    • Translation: Fate throws fortune, but not everyone catches.
  • Lepszy wróbel w garści niż gołąb na dachu
    • Translation: A sparrow in your hand is better than a pigeon on the roof.
    • English equivalent: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  • Ładnemu we wszystkim ładnie
    • Translation: A pretty person looks pretty in every clothing.

M

  • Między młotem a kowadłem
    • Translation: Between the hammer and the anvil
    • English: Caught between a rock and a hard place.
  • Musi to na Rusi, w Polsce jak kto chce
    • Translation:
      • Must to" is good in Russia, in Poland it's as one pleases
      • In Russia it's as you must, in Poland as you wish.
  • Myszy harcują, gdy kota nie czują
    • Translation: Mice play around, when they don't smell the cat
    • English equivalent: When the cat's away, the mice will play.

N

  • Najlepsze mienie - czyste sumienie
    • Translation: The best asset is a clean conscience
  • Na kogo kruki, na tego wrony
  • Alternative: Siła złego na jednego
    • Translation: the one attacked by ravens is also attacked by crows (i.e. used when one is unfairly attacked from all sides by a large number of enemies).
    • English equivalent: All against one.
  • Na pochyłe drzewo wszystkie kozy skaczą
    • Translation: All goats jump onto leaning trees
    • English equivalent: People take advantage if you let them.
  • Nie masz na upór lekarstwa
    • Translation: You can't heal stubbornness
  • "Nie mów o nikim, nie będą o tobie."
    • Translation: Don't talk about others, they won't talk about you.
  • Nie wszystko się godzi, co wolno
    • Translation: Not everything that's allowed is agreeable
    • English equivalent: Not everything legal is ethical.
  • Nie chwal dnia przed zachodem słońca
    • Translation: Don't praise the day before sunset
    • Meaning: Don't give unearned praise(credit)
  • Nie dziel skóry na niedźwiedziu
    • Translation: Don't share the skin while it's still on the bear
    • English equivalent: Don't count your chickens before they are hatched
  • Nie mów „hop”, póki nie przeskoczysz
    • Translation: Don't say 'up', before you have jumped
  • Nie od razu Kraków zbudowano
    • Translation: Not at once Krakow was built
    • English equivalent: Rome wasn't built in a day
  • Nieznajomość prawa szkodzi
    • Translation: ignorance of law is harmful
    • Latin equivalent: Ignoratia iuris nocet
    • English Equivalent: Ignorance is not an excuse
  • "Nie wszystko złoto, co się świeci."
    • Translation: Not all is gold that glitters
    • English Equivalent: Not all that glitters is gold.

O

  • O umarłych mówi się dobrze, albo wcale
    • Latin: De mortuis nihil nisi bene
    • Translation: of the dead speak well or not at all.
  • O wilku mowa, a wilk tuż tuż
    • Translation: Talk of a wolf and the wolf is here
    • Similar to:
      • Speak of the Devil (and he will appear)
      • Light on a mention

P

  • Panu Bogu świeczkę, a diabłu ogarek
    • Translation: Light a candle for God and a candle-stub for the Devil
    • Meaning: Everyone has his share
  • Paluszek i główka to szkolna wymówka
    • Translation: A sore finger and a headache are standard excuses for not going to school
  • Patrzy jak cielę na malowane wrota
    • Translation: He/She is staring like a calf at the painted gate
    • Meaning: He is clueless
  • Piękna miska jeść nie daje
    • Translation: A beautifully decorated plate won't feed anyone
  • Piekło jest wybrukowane dobrymi chęciami

Alternatively: "Dobrymi chęciami piekło jest wybrukowane"

    • Translation: The road to hell is paved with good intentions
  • Pokorne cielę dwie matki ssie
    • Translation: A humble calf will feed from two mothers
    • English equivalent: Humility gets you everywhere.

R

  • Ręka rękę myje
    • Translation: One hand washes the other.
    • Latin equivalent: Manus manum lavat

Meaning: the guilty help the guilty.

  • Śpiesz się powoli
    • Latin equivalent: Festina lente.
    • Deutsch equivalent: Eile mit Weile
    • English equivalent: Haste makes waste

S

  • Szlachcic na zagrodzie równy wojewodzie
    • Translation: A nobleman at his farmstead is equal to a voivod
    • Meaning: A rich person (the nobleman with a farmstead) is as powerful and influential as a state official (the voivode, an approximate equivalent of a sherriff in the medieval England).
  • Szukajcie, a znajdziecie
    • English equivalent: Seek and ye shall find

T

  • Tylko trzewik wie, że pończocha dziurawa
    • Translation:
      • Only the shoe knows the stocking to be torn
      • Only the shoe knows that the stocking is torn.
    • Meaning: Those close to us know our secrets.
  • Ten się śmieje, kto się śmieje ostatni
    • Equivalent:
      • He who laughs last, laughs the longest
      • He laughs best, who laughs last

U

  • Ucz się ucz, bo nauka to do potęgi klucz
    • Translation: Keep learning because knowledge is the key to power

W

  • Wchodząc między wrony, krakaj jak i one
  • Alternatively: Kiedy wszedłeś między wrony, musisz krakać jak i one
    • Translation: When among the crows, caw as the crows do
    • English Equivalent: When in Rome, do as the Romans do
  • Wolnoć Tomku w swoim domku
    • Translation: You are free, Tom, in your own home
    • Meaning: Do as you please at your own home
    • English equivalent: A man's home is his castle
  • Wszędzie dobrze, ale w domu najlepiej
    • Translation: Everywhere's fine, but best at home
    • English equivalent: Home, sweet home
  • Wszystko dobre, co się dobrze kończy
    • English equivalent: All's well that ends well
  • Wszystkie drogi prowadzą do Rzymu
    • English equivalent: All roads lead to Rome
  • W zdrowym ciele zdrowy duch
    • Meaning: In healthy body a healthy spirit resides
    • English equivalent: In a sound body, a sound mind.

Z

  • Zobaczysz (coś), jak świnia niebo
    • Translation: You will see something as surely as a pig will see the sky. (pigs cannot look up)
    • Meaning: In a pig's eye. Or 'It will happen, when pigs fly.' It's not likely.
    • English equivalent: When pigs fly
  • Za dukata brat sprzeda brata
    • Translation: For a ducat, he would sell his own brother
  • Złej baletnicy przeszkadza rąbek u spódnicy
    • Translation: A bad dancer blames the hem of her skirt
    • English equivalent: A bad workman always blames his tools