Mieć nierówno pod sufitem


Lit. “to have uneven (not on one level) under the roof” which translates almost exactly into “a bit lacking upstairs”. You use the expression to informally say that someone is mentally unstable or simply not very bright. At the same time, using it makes the statement a bit gentler and friendlier than saying something like “idiota”, “wariat” or outright “popierdolony”.

Poles often use this metaphor to describe a person that is a bit crazy but harmless.

Continue reading Mieć nierówno pod sufitem

Prąd kopnął


Lit. “kicked by electricity/current” which is is the most common way to say that a person was electrocuted. A more formal way would be “porażony prądem” or struck/hit by electricity but in spoken languages Poles prefer the personification with electricity using its figurative legs to cause damage. The expression is a pretty old one, I remember it being already used in the 80’s to discourage me from tinkering with electrical outlets which, by the way, are called “gniazdko” which translates into “a little nest” in Polish.

Continue reading Prąd kopnął



Lit. “to caw” – as crows do. If this verb is referred to a person then this person is being accused of being extremely pessimistic and having a worst possible outcome in mind. This is why other, more optimistic, people taking part in the same enterprise often say “nie kracz” – don’t caw, don’t discourage us.

The expression is very popular among Poles and is the only meaning apart from the literal one. It might stem from crows’ cawing being a bad omen.

Continue reading Krakać

Kaleczyć język


Lit. “to cut/wound a tongue/language” as in Polish the “język” noun is used to convey both meanings. The expression is a metaphor used to describe someone speaking a language poorly and making many grammatical or lexical mistakes. You can hear it when Poles talk about a foreigner trying to use their language – or a Pole speaking bad English or German.

You could also say “skaleczył się w język” – he cut/wounded his tongue – no metaphor, just bloody facts. This sentence is pretty unequivocal due to the use of reflexive form of the verb with “się” (herself/himself).

Continue reading Kaleczyć język