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List of English words of Polish origin

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

Word Meaning Etymology References
Babka, baba A leavened coffee or rum cake flavored with orange rind, rum, almonds, and raisins Polish 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" 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Britzska
Gherkin A small cucumber Dutch gurken, plural of gurk, "cucumber" ← East Frisian augurk ← possibly Polish ogórek ← possibly Medieval Greek αγγούριον, angourion ← possibly Persian angārah AHD, OED
Hetman Historically, a Polish, Czech or Cossak military leader Ukrainian гетьман, get'man ← Polish hetmanCzech hejtmanGerman HauptmannMiddle High German houbet, "head" + man, "man" AHD, SWO
Horde A nomadic tribe; a crowd or swarm Middle French horde ← Polish hordaNorth-West Turkic ordï, "camp" or "residence" AHD, MW
Kielbasa A spicy smoked Polish sausage Polish kiełbasa, "sausage" ← Turkish kül bastï, "grilled cutlet", literally "pressed on the ashes" AHD, OED
Konik A horse breed Polish konik ← diminutive of koń, "horse"
Nudge, noodge, nudzh To annoy, pester Yiddish nudyen, "to pester, bore" ← Polish nudzić AHD
Ogonek A hook-shaped diacritic Polish ogonek ← diminutive of ogon, "tail"
Paczki A Polish jelly 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" AHD, MW
Sejm Polish diet or parliament Polish sejm, "diet" or "assembly" OED
Schav 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 A rag Yiddish shmate ← Polish szmata AHD
Schmuck, shmuck A clumsy or stupid person Yiddish shmok, vulgar for "penis" ← Polish smok, "dragon" AHD, OED
Uhlan, ulan A cavalryman German Uhlan ← Polish ułan ← Turkish oğlan, "boy" or "servant" OED, MW
Zloty Polish currency Polish złoty, "golden" AHD, OED

Derived from geographic names and ethnonyms

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 krakowianKraków, a city in southern Poland, former capital
Cracovienne, krakowiak A lively Polish folk dance French (danse) cracovienne, "Kraków (dance)", feminine of cracovien, "of Kraków"; Polish krakowiak, "inhabitant of Kraków" 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 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 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"
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


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