List of English words of Polish origin

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"Kielbasa" derives from a generic Polish word for a sausage.

This is a list English words of Polish origin, that is words used in the English language that were borrowed or derived, either directly or indirectly, from Polish. Several Polish words have entered English slang via Yiddish, brought by Ashkenazi Jews migrating from Poland to North America. Other English words were indirectly derived from Polish via Russian or West European languages, such as French, German or Dutch. The Polish words themselves often come from other languages, such as German or Turkish. Borrowings from Polish tend to be mostly words referring to staples of Polish cuisine, names of Polish folk dances or specialist, e.g. horse-related, terminology. Among the words of Polish origin there are several words that derive from Polish geographic names and ethnonyms, including the name Polska, "Poland", itself.

Derived from common words[edit]


The following words are derive directly from Polish. Some of them are loanwords in Polish itself.

Word Meaning Etymology References
Babka, baba A leavened coffee or rum cake flavored with orange rind, rum, almonds, and raisins Polish and Ukrainian babka, a yeast cake ← diminutive of baba, "old woman" AHD: babka, AHD: baba
Bigos A Polish stew made with meat and cabbage Polish bigos ← possibly German begossen, "doused" AHD, SWO
Britzka, britska A type of horse-drawn carriage Polish bryczka ← diminutive of bryka, "wagon" EB-1911
Kielbasa A spicy smoked Polish sausage Polish kiełbasa, "sausage" ← Turkish kül bassï, "grilled cutlet" ← Turkic kül bastï: kül, "coals, ashes" + bastï, "pressed (meat)" (from basmaq, "to press") AHD, OED
Klotski A sliding block puzzle Polish klocki, plural of klocek, "toy block" Game Concepts: Klotski, Origin of Klotski
Konik A horse breed Polish konik ← diminutive of koń, "horse" [citation needed]
Marrowsky A spoonerism (transposition of the initial consonants of two words) Said to be from the name of a Polish count OED
Ogonek A hook-shaped diacritic Polish ogonek ← diminutive of ogon, "tail" [citation needed]
Paczki A Polish jam-filled doughnut Polish pączki, plural of pączek ← diminutive of pąk, "bud" AHD
Pierogi A semicircular dumpling of unleavened dough with any of various fillings Polish pierogi, plural of pieróg, "dumpling" AHD, MW
Rendzina A dark, grayish-brown soil that develops under grass on limestone and chalk Polish rędzinarzędzić, "to chat" MW
Sejm Polish diet or parliament Polish sejm, "diet" or "assembly" OED
Spruce The word spruce entered the English language from the Polish name of Prusy (a historical region, today part of Poland). It became spruce because in Polish, z Prus, sounded like "spruce" in English (transl. "from Prussia") and was a generic term for commodities brought to England by Hanseatic merchants and because the tree was believed to have come from Polish Ducal Prussia. [1]
Zloty Polish currency Polish złoty, "golden" AHD, OED


The following words are derived from Polish via third languages.

Word Meaning Etymology References
Hetman Historically, a Polish, Czech or Cossak military leader Ukrainian гетьман, het'man ← Polish hetmanCzech hejtmanGerman HauptmannMiddle High German houbet, "head/high" + man, "man" AHD, SWO
Horde A nomadic tribe; a crowd or swarm Middle French horde ← German Horde ← Polish horda ← Russian орда (ordá) ← Greek (Byzantine) hορδή (hordé) ← Mongol or North-West Turkic ordï, "camp" or "residence" ← Mongol orda, ordu, "court, camp, horde". AHD, MW
Gherkin A small cucumber German Gurken, plural of Gurk, "cucumber" ← East Frisian Augurk ← possibly Polish ogórek ← possibly Medieval Greek αγγούριον, angourion ← possibly Persian angārah AHD, OED
Nudnik A bore; a boring person Yiddish nudnik ← Polish nudny, "boring", nuda, "boredom" OED
Quartz A hard white or colorless mineral Mid 18th century: from German Quarz, from Polish dialect kwardy, corresponding to standard Polish twardy 'hard' OED
Schav, schaf A sorrel soup Yiddish שטשאַוו, shtshav, "sorrel" ← Polish szczaw AHD
Schlub, shlub A clumsy, stupid or unattractive person Yiddish zhlob or zhlub, "yokel", "boor" ← Polish żłób, "manger" AHD, MW
Schmatte, shmatte A rag Yiddish shmate ← Polish szmata AHD
Schmuck, shmuck A clumsy or stupid person Yiddish shmok, vulgar for "penis" ← probably from Old Polish smok, "grass snake" or "dragon" OED
Uhlan, ulan A cavalryman German Uhlan ← Polish ułan ← Turkish oğlan, "boy" or "servant" OED, MW

Derived from geographic names and ethnonyms[edit]

Word Meaning Etymology References
Alla polacca Like a polonaise (in musical notation) Italian alla polacca, "in the Polish manner, Polish style" MW
Bialy A flat, round baked roll or bagel topped with onion flakes Yiddish bialy ← short for bialystoker, "of Białystok", a town in north-eastern Poland AHD, MW
Cracovian A mathematical symbol used in cracovian calculus Polish krakowianCracow, a city in southern Poland, former capital [citation needed]
Cracovienne, krakowiak A lively Polish folk dance French (danse) cracovienne, "Kraków (dance)", feminine of cracovien, "of Cracow"; Polish krakowiak, "inhabitant of Cracow" MW: cracovienne, MW: krakowiak
Crackowe, cracowe, crakow, crakowe, A long, pointed shoe popular in the 14th-15th centuries Middle English crakowe ← Cracow, the English name of Kraków MW
Czech Of or related to the Czech Republic or its people Polish Czech, "a Czech or Bohemian man" ← Czech Čech AHD
Mazurka A Polish dance or a piece of music for such a dance Russian мазурка, mazurka ← Polish (tańczyć) mazurka, "(to dance) the mazurka", accusative of mazurek ← diminutive of Mazur, "inhabitant of Masovia or Masuria", regions in north-eastern Poland AHD, OED, SWO
Polack A Pole; formerly a neutral term, now considered offensive (see also List of ethnic slurs) Polish Polak, "Pole" AHD, OED
Polonaise A stately, marchlike Polish dance or a piece of music for such a dance French (danse) polonaise, "Polish (dance)", feminine of polonais, "Polish" OED
Polonaise A woman's overdress popular in the 18th century French (robe à la) polonaise, "Polish (style dress)", feminine of polonais, "Polish" OED
Polonaise Sprinkled with browned butter and bread crumbs (of food, mostly vegetables) French polonaise, feminine of polonais, "Polish" OED, MW
Polonium Chemical element with atomic number 84 Medieval Latin Polonia, "Poland" AHD
Polska A Scandinavian folk dance or a piece of music for such a dance Swedish polska ← feminine of polsk, "Polish" MW
Poulaine (The pointed toe of) a crackowe shoe (see above) Middle French (soulier à la) poulaine, "Polish (style shoe)" ← feminine of poulain, "Polish" MW
Silesaurus An extinct genus of dinosauriform reptiles from the Late Triassic Medieval Latin Silesia ← Polish Śląsk, a region in south-western Poland + Classical Greek saura, "lizard" [citation needed]
Varsoviana, varsovienne A graceful dance similar to a mazurka Spanish varsoviana ← feminine of varsoviano; French varsovienne ← feminine of varsovien; both from Medieval Latin varsovianus, "of Warsaw" (Polish: Warszawa), the capital city of Poland MW


See also[edit]