Wino marki wino


Lit. “the Wine brand of wine” meant ironically. The expression comes from this product that has been the weapon of choice of winos in communist Poland. After the collapse of the system, various brands of fruit wine remained their favourites and quite often also source of first serious hangovers for Polish teenagers. The original “brand” is no longer available but hundreds of local variants have blossomed in the meantime, some of them gaining a cult following. What they have in common is: a) all being produced out of fruits, mainly apples b) alcohol volume of around 18% c) contain high levels of sulphur.

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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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Pójść w tango


Lit. “to go onto/start a tango”, which in most cases describes a multiday drinking binge in different bars, dance clubs or house parties. What might be included as well is consumption of illegal drugs and one night stands with random people met in those places. To go on a bender.

When you say that someone “poszedł/poszła w tango”, his or her colleagues should not expect their presence at work. If the person in question is an alcoholic then the binge usually has very negative consequences for their health and social life as well.

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Zerwał mu się film


Lit. “his film reel snapped” which means the person referenced cannot recall her/his actions after having consumed a large amounts of alcohol and/or other drugs. It is quite often used by ethanol victims on the next day when asked what happened, where have you been or “do you remember what have you done”, which already suggests that something really embarrassing happened. In turn, they need to show their penance by saying: “nie wiem, zerwał mi się film” and await a sentence; being mocked by “pić trzeba umieć” (better) or hear some unbelievable details and then decide if they are just a joke or facts to face (worse).

The expression is an obvious reference to a defect of the old-fashioned movie equipment preventing from recording.

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Chodzić po ścianach


Lit. “to walk on walls”. This expression is used in various contexts and situations to convey lots of meanings. In the past, it seems to me, it’s been mainly used to describe a person that is in stressed out, cannot control her- or himself. Or people doing their very best to achieve something considered unrealistic. I’ve also seen instances of “chodzić po ścianach” referring to someone being extremely bored.

The meaning I’m mostly used to and it seems, a more popular nowadays, is this referring to people being completely drunk or intoxicated with some other drugs, especially if this state is reached at a house party be a couple persons in unison. The spirits (we’re not talking about a beer or two here) lift their spirits so high, that they gain superhuman powers, even if cannot remember it the day after. By the way, if you want to learn about fifty, often poetic, ways to say “drunk” in Polish, head to this page. It has them all.

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