Ancient Words: Cute words in Polish and how to say them

egg shaped dog

PB and I were thinking about what we would name our pets. Once we get a place where we can have a backyard so that animals can run around, we will be getting a rescue dog and cat or perhaps a whole menagerie. What we discovered was an astonishing number of cute words in Polish, here are their meanings and how to pronounce them.

FYI: to ‘cute’ up any word in Polish you can simply add ‘ek’ to the end of words to make it into a diminuitive form.

Poduszka (pron. po-dush-ka)

n. pillow

Comes from Proto-Slavic *podušьka. Cognate with Russian подушка (poduška), Ukrainian по́душка (póduška), Czech poduška, Slovak poduška. Ultimately this cosy comfy word comes from Proto-Slavic *duxъ meaning: “breath, spirit”. Through the meaning development of “breath” → “inflated” → “pillow”.

Paluszek (pron. Palu-sheck)

n. little finger

A diminutive form of the noun ‘palec’ or finger. Paluszek is a slang term for an AA or AAA battery. It’s also used to describe pretzel sticks or other finger foods.

pępek (pron. pow-peck)

n. a belly button

Pępek comes from Proto-Slavic *pǫpъkъ and means button. The Yiddish word פּעמפּיק‎ (pempik) is derived from it.

pępek świata (pron. pow-pek sh-wia-ta) is a derogatory term meaning: the ‘centre of the universe’, the ‘bee’s knees’ or the cat’s pyjamas’. Pępek świata literally means the ‘navel of the world’.

Example: Fa-fa-ra-fa, On nie jest pępkiem świata

In English: ‘Fa-fa-ra-fa he is not the belly button of the world’. This saying could be used to describe Putin, who thinks he is the belly button of the world, but he’s not he’s just a piece of shit.

pieluszka (pron. pe-lush-ka)

n. nappy

A diminutive form of the word pielucha “nappy, diaper” +‎ -ka, a word derived from the Ukrainian пелю́шка (peljúška) from пелю́ха (peljúxa). This word in turn comes from the word for a pea pod: peluszka.

Chmurek (pron. k-mur-eck)

n. little cloud

Chmurek is a diminuitive form for chmura meaning cloud. This originates from the Proto-Slavic word *xmura. It can also be found in the Belarusian, Ukrainian variations хмара (xmara).

One research paper highlights a debate about the origin of the Hungarian words Komor: ‘gloomy’ and komoly: ‘serious. Stating that based on evidence it is possible that the Slavic stem of -chmur and the Hungarian -komor could share a common etymological ancestor.

The Hungarian words komor ‘gloomy’ and komoly ‘serious’ are of unknown origin. The present paper aims to elucidate this question from various angles: it gives an overview of what the Hungarian etymological dictionaries say on this topic, shows that komoly is a relatively late development out of komor, spread by the language reformers (especially by Ferenc Kazinczy) at the end of the 18th century, and presents the attempts to prove the Turkic origin of komor. Finally, it offers a Slavic etymology based on the Slavic stem *chmur-,

A Possible Slavic Etymology of Hungarian komor ‘gloomy’ and komoly ‘serious’.

palec u nogi (pron. pal-etz u no-gi)

n. literally ‘foot fingers’ or toes.

Derives from the From Proto-Slavic root of *pàlьcь.

Puszek (pron. pu-sheck)

n. a crumble, a piece of fluff

Inherited from Proto-Slavic *puxъ, puszek is the diminutive form of the noun puch (pronounced poo-hh) meaning ‘soft down, immature feathers’ or ‘snow’.

okruszek (pron. o-kru-sheck)

n. a little crumble, a little piece of fluff

From okruch (“crumble”) +‎ -ek (diminutive suffix).

I hope you enjoyed this cosy journey into cute Polish words.

Do you have any words in your language that sound cute and would make a great name for a dog or cat? Let me know below.

Also if you know of any other cute words in Polish let me know below I will add them to the list. We may name our future pet after them!

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

13 thoughts on “Ancient Words: Cute words in Polish and how to say them

  1. Oh wow that’s next level learning Russian…Cyrillic is super hard. I love learning Polish it’s really colorful and expressive.

    The bear has taught me a lot having to communicate with his family also pushed me to learn too. No regrets it’s awesome. I hope you are well my friend it’s so nice to hear from you 😊 😸 take care

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am not sure, to be honest. I lack the comparison. Calicos are known as lucky cats. We took her in as a street cat. Over the years she has become super cuddly and she has a crazy patience for children. I think, she is the best and smartest cat in the world (but some other cat owners may think that, too)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Everyone thinks their cat is the smartest in the world hehe and it’s probably true! They are a super species that will emerge after humans’ downfall


  2. In love with these words 😍 I often forget that these words may sound cute to other people!

    When I was a kid, we had a cat with a floppy ear and her name was Uszatka (like the bear – miś Uszatek).

    The trend that I currently love is giving human names to animals 😂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I had to look up mis Uszatka and I’m so happy that I did because I went into a YouTube wormhole of cute and cosy Polish children’s cartoons from the 70s and 80s they were all speaking very clearly and slowly for the kiddies and for me to understand the Polish hehe, I think this will be a future post – Polish cartoons!


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