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There are a few words in English that are of Polish origin. Some of these are hard to distinguish from Russian words, and this is because such words are simply Slavic words which are the same in almost all Slavic languages. In this article I'll try to concentrate on words that are distinctly Polish, or are general Slavic words that definitely came through Polish as the source language. Most of them are culinary terms or terms referring to other aspects of Polish culture.

  • babka -- this is a type of coffee cake flavored with orange rinds and rum, among other things. The word comes from the diminutive of baba, old woman. This is the same word referring to basically the same dish (and the same old ladies) in Russian. The word probably came into English at about the same time from Russian and Polish immigrant groups.
  • Czech -- apparently, the name for the Czechs and their language in English comes from the Polish version of the word, not the Czech version.
  • kielbasa -- this type of spicy smoked Polish sausage comes is kiełbasa in Polish. The Slavic root for this word actually ultimately comes from a Turkic word meaning 'meat pressed on coals'
  • mazurka -- this triple-time Polish national dance literally means 'woman from Mazovia,' a historical region of Eastern Poland
  • pirogies -- this type of meat dumpling comes from the plural of the Polish word pieróg, meaning dumpling. Like babka, this is the same word referring to basically the same dish in Russian.
  • Sejm -- the Polish word for the parliament which ruled along with the king since 1493. Since 1918, the Sejm is the lower house of parliament, or the Diet.
  • vodka -- The source of this word is unclear as to whether it came to English via Russian or Polish. It's an old Slavic word meaning literally 'little water'. In Polish, it is spelled wodka.

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