Szewc bez butów chodzi


Lit. “shoemaker walks around barefoot” which refers to situations in which a person proficient (or claiming to be) in some trade does not apply it for her/his own good. This usually sounds a bit comical but might also point at double standards of the target, especially if he or she gives others some precious advice not complying to it.

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Szukaj wiatru w polu


Lit. “seek the wind in the field”. Which is a set expression referring to something or someone that has disappeared never to be found, or even more often – has been deliberately hidden or ran away. It is used as a kind of “end of story” point to stress that the person telling a story expects the thing or the protagonist never to surface again and believes an investigation or a search party to be futile.

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Kowal zawinił, Cygana powiesili


Lit. “it’s the blacksmith who’s guilty, but they hung the Gypsy”. You use this expression to point at an injustice and suggest that a person or an institution with more power (social, financial or political) got away with their wrongdoing while another actor with much less influence took the blame and was punished.

The source of this saying is obviously with an important role wealthy smiths have played in rural Poland while travelling Roma traditionally being outcasts and blamed for whatever crime happened while they were around.

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Tu leży pies pogrzebany


Lit. “that’s where the dog lies buried” which seems to have been adopted from German and is present in multiple other, not only slavic or germanic languages. It’s used to point at the cause or the focal point of whatever is being discussed. Quite often one of people in a discussion jumps in with this expression as soon as he or she hears about whatever seems to be a key factor. It  therefore also serves to stress one’s own opinion.

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Człowiek nie wielbłąd, pić musi


Lit. “a human is not a camel and needs to (have a) drink”. It’s a polite and humorous way of complying to a suggestion of alcohol consumption. At times it might sound a bit like surrendering to a devil’s voice, even after you’ve done your best to oppose it and stay sober. This sentence usually precedes a serious drinking bout resulting in a really bad hangover and remorse. It’s also quite often used as a wedding party toast.

The perfidious and funny part of the saying is that camels, being reasonable and responsible animals, don’t drink alcohol, just water. However, “wódka” being a diminutive form of “woda” (water) brings them shockingly closer to being an animal patron of alcoholics.

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