English words of Polish origin

450px-Flag_of_PolandUnlike Spanish or Portuguese, the Polish language hasn’t given English a lot of words. Of the few words English has borrowed from Polish, most have remained unchanged and they usually refer to Polish products (mostly food), so they are not too surprising but we can still find some interesting words to talk about.

 

Food

The two best known Polish words in English are without a doubt kielbasa and pierogi. They are both popular food items that can be found in any supermarket and both words come straight from Polish without any changes, English just pronounces them in a different way.

Another word related to food that comes from Polish is vitamin. It was invented by Polish biochemist Casimir Funk when he first discovered the existence of vitamins, he called them vitamine.

 

Words that came through other languages

Most Polish words that made their way to English did it through other languages after many centuries and the original Polish is now almost lost. However, a few words can still be traced back to their Polish beginnings.

Three words that followed this process are quartz (from kwardy) and horde (from horda) that made their way through German, and schlub (from zlob) that did it through Yiddish.

 

Things named after Poland

Even though there aren’t a lot of words that came to English through Polish, there are some things that are named after Poland.

Polonium, the radioactive element, was named after the country as its discoverer scientist Marie Curie was born there. The Silesaurus dinosaur is named after Silesia in Poland as it was first found in that area.

A Spoonerism (confusing the first letters of two words) can also be called a Marrowsky, which is believed to be the name of a Polish count who would often make the mistake.

And finally, something named after Poland by mistake! The spruce tree, so popular during Christmas, is named after Prussia (from z Pruse) as English buyers believed that’s where the tree came from.

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  1. […] the biggest immigrant language is Polish with 1% of the population as speakers, after that come Urdu and Punjabi with 0.5% each, and Bengali […]

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