Watch Out For False Friends

By 22 August 2019Polish Language

Sometimes you see a word in a foreign language and even though you’ve never seen it before, you instantly know what it means, because it’s so similar to your native language. But be careful, it may turn out to be a trap! Let’s take a look at some Polish words that don’t really mean what you think they do.

The confusion caused by the alleged similarity of words can have a hilarious outcome, because the difference in meaning can be really significant. For example, calling someone brat in English would be offensive, while in Polish it denotes a brother. Calling someone a lunatic would be offensive too, while the Polish lunatyk refers to someone who walks in their sleep. And it wouldn’t be nice to say that something is pathetic, whereas the Polish word patetyczny means that something is solemn and full of pathos. Here’s a list of other tricky Polish words.

list – a letter
genialny – brilliant
but – a shoe
pan – a mister
most – a bridge
fart – good luck
herb – a coat of arms
chart – a greyhound
prom – a ferry
fabryka – a factory
transparent – a banner
prezerwatywa – a condom
pasta – paste
lektura – a set book at school
baton – a candy bar
afera – a scandal
data – a date
deska – a plank
pupil – a teacher’s pet
obskurny – shabby
sympatyczny – pleasant, friendly
ewidencja – a record
karnacja – a complexion
dywan – a carpet
ignorant – ignoramus

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