Czarna mafia


Lit. “black mafia” which in Poland does not refer to an African criminal organization but to the Catholic Church. It is by far the largest religious community in the country and has a strong presence and influence on public life, especially in rural areas. Catholic priests wear black cassocks as their everyday work suits hence the expression. It has a strong negative overtone to it and is mainly used by quite numerous Polish anticlericals when criticizing the Church’s alleged wealth, hypocrisy and interference in politics.

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Kopnąć w kalendarz


Lit. To “kick the calendar” and figuratively (as well as colloquially and ironically): to die. Jerzy Bralczyk, an expert in Polish language, traces the expression back to the fact that a calendar is no longer needed by a dead person hence she or he can kick it away. Don’t use it when talking to a deceased’s friends or relatives – it would be highly disrespectful.

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Lit. “ass-cover”. This noun is a recent addition to Polish language and means an action or an object that covers your ass in case of an emergency. It is widely used in the offices of Warsaw’s Służewiec (a.k.a. “Mordor”) business district and usually refers to an Email that you send to another party to say what may (and probably will) go wrong if they don’t remediate a risk or to confirm in writing what you have agreed upon in a previous meeting/call. This neologism consists of two words: “dupa” (ass) and “-chron” (protector), the latter being as well used in the word “piorunochron” (lightning rod) while the “piorun” means “lightning”.

The word may also refer to legal disclaimers that we know all to well from various Terms and Conditions, contracts and medication pamphlets.

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Pójść w ślinę


Lit. “to go (move into) saliva”. This is a very colloquial and somewhat vulgar way of describing a passionate kiss during which two individuals explore each other’s oral cavities and exchange some body fluid in the process. The act quite often precedes an even more serious sexual activity and by using this expression you provoke a question about what happened next.

This seems to be a quite fresh addition to Polish vocabulary and I had not been aware of its existence until a colleague used it commenting on another married chap’s improper behaviour in a bar.

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Między wódkę a zakąskę


Lit. “between the vodka and the… chaser(?)” preceded by a verb describing movement. The problem here is that the word “zakąska” in this context, or colloquially “zagrycha”, is not really a chaser as it is a bite of food you follow a shot of pure vodka with to kill its taste or/and reduce the risk of your stomach refusing to take it. It is usually a pickled cucumber, mushroom or a marinated herring but never a liquid which has another name in Polish: “przepitka”. You could simply call zakąska “a snack” but then you lose the connection to the alcoholic beverage.

Anyway, the clou of the expression is that you cut in between two inseparable parts or interrupt when one or more people are talking or disrupt another activity which is not really of your business. It is used as a means of rebuking or condemning an action and pointing a finger at the culprit.

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