Joking and lying in Polish

In the era of „It’s a prank, bro”, it’s worth to know how to excuse your behaviour by telling that you were just joking. In this article I want to teach you expressions connected with joking and lying.


How do we say „I’m kidding!”? „Żartuję”. Because „żartować” is the vital word which means „to joke”. We often say „(Spoko), tylko żartowałem” — „(Take it easy), I was only joking”.

When we are surprised by our speaker’s words, we may reply „Żartujesz sobie?” — „Are you joking?”. It’s not too polite, we say it when we become a little irritated. It happens even in official situations — then this phrase becomes „Żartuje pan/ pani sobie?” — „Are you, sir/ madam, joking?”.

When we get more frustrated, we can use the expression „To chyba jakiś żart” or „To jest jakiś żart” — „It’s (probably) some kind of joke”.
Stary, ukradli ci auto. Dude, you got your car stolen.
Żartujesz sobie? Are you kidding?
Nie, na serio, nie ma go w garażu. No, seriously, it’s not in the garage.
Jak to nie ma go w garażu? To chyba jakiś żart! What do you mean by „it’s not in the garage”? This must be a joke!

There’s an interesting way of saying „to joke” in Polish. It’s „robić sobie jaja z czegoś/ kogoś” — „to make eggs out of something/ someone”. You can „robić sobie jaja z poważnej sytuacji” — „to joke about a serious situation” or „robić sobie jaja z Adama” — „to joke towards Adam”. And how do we call a person who jokes? „Żartowniś”.

If you set a pranky kind of joke and someone doesn’t realise it’s a joke, you get them. How do we say „to get someone” in Polish? There are many ways and you can hear them often: „mieć kogoś” (Mam cię!), „nabrać kogoś” (Dałeś się nabrać!), „zrobić kogoś w jajo/ w balona/ w konia”, „nabić kogoś w butelkę”. There are also a few vulgar versions of this phrase.

Now let’s get to cheating. To cheat — „oszukiwać”, to lie — „kłamać”. But „to cheat” is more universal in English than it is in Polish. When speaking about cheating on partner, we use „zdradzać kogoś” and when speaking about cheating on a test, we use „ściągać (na sprawdzianie)”.

Are there some colloquial ways to say „to cheat” or „to lie” someone? Yes, there are. The most common are: „zrobić kogoś w balona/ w ciula”, „wydymać kogoś” (a little vulgar). How do we call a person who lies? „Kłamca” or — more childishly — „kłamczuch”, „kłamczuszek”. A person who cheats — „oszust” or (in youth slang) „oszukista”, „cziter”. You can also read the article about the word „cwaniak” who is a person who sometimes lies too.

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