1.Tu leży pies pogrzebany
(lit. Here is where the buried dog lies )
Meaning: This is the source of the problem!
Origin: The legend says there was a German nobleman who was in love with some lady during a war. To send her love letters he used his dog. The dog became a great postman and the lady loved him so much, she wanted to bury him in a cemetery by the church. People of the town didn’t agree and moved the body of the dog somewhere out of the cemetery. The lady put a stone on this place and asked for inscription : “Here lies the dog.”
Example: Cały dzień zastanawiałam się, dlaczego mój komputer nie działa. Zepsuła się bateria. Tu jest pies pogrzebany!
2.Wylać dziecko z kąpielą
(lit. to pour the baby out with a bath water)
Meaning: To lose something very valuable trying to achieve something else
Origin: Long time ago people didn’t have any need to stay clean so they had a bath once a week or ever more seldom. On the other hand they were very eco-friendly because they used just one bathtub for the whole family.
There was a hierarchy in washing. The head of the family washed himself first, then his elder sons, then the mother, daughter and the baby was the last one. You can imagine how dirty was the water by then! So when the mother was emptying the bathtub, she could easily forget the baby is inside and she could pour him out into the street with all the yucky water.
Example: Nie wylej dziecka z kąpielą, kiedy próbujesz robić karierę. Pamiętaj, że najważniejsi są ludzie!
3.Biegać jak kot z pęcherzem
(lit. to run like a cat with a bladder)
Meaning: To run/ walk / move anxiously
Origin: In old times poor farmers’ couldn’t afford real balls for their children to play with. Their parents made balls with pigs’ bladders, filled them with hay and here you go! Unfortunately, such balls didn’t last long. When the ball was broken, cruel children tied it to cat’s neck and let him run with it until poor animal could release itself.
Example: Co tak biegasz jak kot z pęcherzem? Nie stresuj się, na pewno doktor powie, że wszystko jest w porządku.
4.Wieszać na kimś psy
(lit. to hang dogs on someone)
Meaning: To speak bad about someone
Origin: Long time ago, animals could go to the court like people. A lot of stray dogs when caught stealing would be hung. When a human committed a very nasty crime, the citizens would demand to hang him next to the dogs. A lot of dogs would be hung upside down so they would additionally bite the criminal.
Example: Zofia zawsze strasznie wiesza psy na nauczycielce swojego syna. Ona bardzo jej nie lubi.
Also check out my article about 10 Polish words which sound beautiful when whispered.
5.Wpuścić kogoś w maliny
(lit. to let someone in the raspberry [bushes])
Meaning: to deceive someone
Origin: It is believed this saying comes from an old phrase use by card games players. When a player lost everything, he said he is among raspberry bushes. “Jestem w malinach”. There is another phrase of the same meaning – “Wyprowadzić kogoś w pole” – to lead someone into a field which sounds less pleasant than to be surrounded by tasty raspberries…
Example: HR wpuścił mnie w maliny! Mówili, że nie będę miał nadgodzin!
6.Wyjść na czymś jak Zabłocki na mydle
(lit. to end up like Zabłocki on a soap)
Meaning: to fail in a deal, not to benefit from something
Origin: Zabłocki was a poor nobleman who wanted to seize the moment when people discovered it’s worth to have a bath from time to time (Beforehand they used the soap only to wish their clothes). He decided to make a business and export some of his soap overseas. The plan was not perfect. All the soap he shipped dissolved during the shipment. He lost a lot of money.
Example: Dwa lata temu otworzyłam sklep online z kosmetykami naturalnymi. Zainwestowałam wszystkie oszczędności. Niestety rynek jest już pełny i wyszłam na tym jak Zabłocki na mydle.
7.Doprowadzić kogoś do szewskiej pasji
(lit. to lead someone to shoemaker’s passion)
Meaning: to make someone furious
Origin: Shoemakers in Poland are known for their temper. They used to be simple poor people who liked booz and hit their children. Pasja – passion changed it’s original meaning now. Firstly it meant the suffering of Jesus during the day of his death, then it meant anger, a state of overwhelming emotions. And in this meaning it’s used in this phrase. Imagine a stereotypical Polish shoemaker who had it enough…ay!
Example: Ten nowy pracownik doprowadza mnie do szewskiej pasji. Ciągle o wszystko pyta!
8. Zbijać bąki
(to hit bugs)
Meaning: to be lazy, idle (at the moment)
Origin: When you are so lazy, you are half sitting, half laying on the couch with a plate of chips on your stomach, the only thing which would make you do something could be bothering bugs. By the way, bąki also means farts. No kidding.
Example: Czekam na taki dzień, kiedy będę mogła bez wyrzutów sumienia przez cały dzień zbijać bąki.
(onomatopeic – no literal meaning)
Meaning: something stupid and irrelevant
Origin: Fiu from this phrase is an onomatopeic word created from the sound of a sigh or light wind. Bździu is a deminutive or funny form of the word “bzdura” so “nothing, rubbish, something of no value”. A lot of Polish mothers would say that their daughter have “fiu bździu” in their heads – they don’t think about anything serious.
Example: Kiedy miałam 15 lat miałam fiu bździu w głowie. Myślałam tylko o chłopakach i ubraniach.
10. Goły jak święty turecki
( lit. naked as a Turkish saint)
Meaning: Someone has no clothes on or someone has no money
Origin: Mikołaj Radziwiłł, another Polish nobleman traveled to the Holy Land to see the place where Jesus was born. When he was in Damascus he met an ascetic from Turkey who was wandering completely naked. Radziwiłł wrote about this episode in his book “Peregrination to the Holy Land”
Example: Jezus Maria! Co tak chodzisz jak goły turecki po pokoju. Przecież wiesz, że mam lekcję polskiego na Skypie!
11. Rozbierać się do rosołu
( lit. to take clothes off to eat the broth)
Meaning: To take all clothes off
Origin: Once upon a time there was a Polish nobleman who was not very welcomed in his social circle. Once he arrived to a feast and the host ordered his servants to serve him a broth mixed with water to show him how unwanted he was there. When the nobleman tasted it started taking his clothes off. When asked why, he replied: the soup is so watery, he needed to jump in to look for some pieces.
Example: Może byś coś na siebie założyła? Siedzisz rozebrana jak do rosołu, a za chwilę przychodzą goście!
Most of the stories come from page EduSens or my memory.