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A way to recall the Polish month names.

Hi all,

After a bit of work I was able to recite the months in Polish, in the order of the months. They are, of course, as follows; styczeń, luty, marzec, kwiecień, maj, czerwiec, lipiec, sierpień, wrzesień, październik, listopad and grudzień. I read some interesting stuff about the origins of the Polish names .

However, I had trouble recalling a particular month on demand. I came up with a few mental links to associate some of the months with the Roman names. I'd like to share it with you, to help or to inspire you.

  • January to styczeń, I think about how January stitches together the old year and the new.
  • February to luty, I have a little rhyme „luty, two-ty”.
  • Marzec and maj aren't a problem.
  • June to czerwiec, in my head I see the 'n' in June as a chair (chair-viets).
  • July to lipiec, here I remember the 'ly' at the end of July and link that to first letters of lipiec.
  • August to sierpień, I picture sharpening the 'A' of August.
  • With wrzesień it's harder, but I link the three tops of the 'w' of wrzesień and associate that with the 9th month.
  • Październik has ten letters, so I associate that with the 10th month.
  • For listopad, it has those two letters at the start 'li' that I associate with 11, the 11th month.
  • The last month I associate grudzień with grudging-ly buying prezzies at Xmas time.

Ah! So you noticed I left out kwiecień! Well I haven't come up with a good association but I figure it out by elimination.

Perhaps you'll find this helpful, I hope you do. At least I hope you enjoyed a little journey into my mind.

August 10, 2016



Listopad is one of the few I find easy to remember because list is a leaf (in some Slavic languages it refers to a leaf of paper, in others to a letter, in others to actual leaves, but there's a strong link there) and pad comes from the root meaning of falling - falling leaves - Autumn.

The real fun is that the traditional Slavic month names are based on what time of year things happen, so they're not the same in different countries that use them. Listopad means November in Polish (and Ukrainian), but in Croatian it means October ;-p At which point I'm quite glad that so many Slavic countries use adapted versions of the Roman(?) names...


I really like your second point, in the North of England the leaves are falling in September. The last leaves to fall are, perhaps, in the middle of November. You know winter's here when all the leaves are gone.


I do really love the traditional Slavic names and their connection to the seasons, but as soon as you learn them in a language from a different linguistic area, confusion happens :-/

One thing I find weird is that you'd think the leaves would fall later in a more southern climate, so logic would suggest Ukrainian and Polish would get to Autumn sooner, and yet it's actually the other way around. I really wish I knew why that was! Maybe there's some other aspect to when Autumn arrives in the South-Slavic language area versus the East/West areas, but it's curious!


I don't know either but it's definitely weird and interesting. It could be climate or biology, or both.


In all honesty it's not exactly like that, the leaves in Poland are usually starting to fall in late September, in November they're mostly gone. Maybe it was different some centuries ago? You know, climate change and all... Still, the meanings of the months' names are nice, I still remember learning them in (Polish) preschool.


Yeah, and it's always a pain to understand them even if you can grasp the meaning. ok,. February is usually the coldest month because of winds and high humidity, so luty makes sense, but summer and autumn ones are a PITA!


About kwiecień, I believe the name comes from "kwiat" (flower) because April is when flowers start appearing.


Oczywiście, masz rację.

This reminds me of the proverb "March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers". I can think now of April showers - flowers - kwiaty - kwiecień. This'll work for me :-) dzięki


What's also interesting is that in Czech "květen" is the name of another month, namely May. And April is called "duben" in Czech, which comes from "dub" (in Polish "dąb") meaning "oak".


Interesting, I enjoy seeing how words and sounds change meanings from place to place. Sometimes it can trip you up in language learning but often it's fun to see the differences and the similarities.


Aww, our lovely month names. I do sympathise. I guess we just had to be more original than the Russians :D


What's so nice about Polish month names is the connection to the natural world.


This is awesome :D So creative!!


Hi! Thanks for your lovely comment and good luck with your learning. I really hope everyone finds some inspiration from my little post.


Thanks, it's been a great journey so far. I've found that it's much better to have external audio or video sources help you if you're serious about learning the language you're after. If you're interested search uczmy sie polskiego on youtube, they're fantastic half-hour videos my basic polish has gotten much stronger after I've started watching them ;)


How about: kwiecień --> April --> new tax year --> tax returns --> much kvetching.


Nice association :-)

And you got me thinking. April may bring to mind two things; April Fools and sometimes it's Easter. I'd be a wretch if I was fooled (again) or, better, k-fetching some choccy eggs.


My hint for kwiecień is, that April is related to spring and therefore with the blooming of flowers. I assume that kwiecień is derived from kwiat. For example 'flowery' means kwiecisty which gets very close to kwiecień.

My original association for kwiecień was a connection to cień (shade/shadow): Winter still casts a shadow on spring with moody and oftentimes cold weather.

Maybe these two can help someone here. At least dealing with words and making up associations eventually makes remembering them easy :)


Listopad and kwiecień stay in my mind because they are easy sounds in English and are sort of cute sounding and bizarre enough to stay in mind. Listopad!! Sierpień "should" be September, so I remember that terrible error and know that it should go back a month to August.

This is one element of knowledge in a universe of knowledge needed for fundamental life. Truly crazy and I am trying to get this order down right now, along with the days of the week. I can only imagine what refugees will think if they are parceled out to Hungary and Poland!!


Kwiecien is like kwiety (flowers) I always associate it with flowers because they blossom in April


And it's the correct association ;) However, it's "kwiaty" :)


I don't want to be the turd in the punchbowl here, but I don't really think what you are doing to remember the names is a good idea, and that's because for a language like Polish you will have difficulties to recall lots of words on demand, not only months. Which means that your brain will simply not be able to retain all these associations you're trying to make (some of which I find really far-fetched tbh). It reminds me of some people who translate the sentence they want to say from their mother language into their target language; in the end you'll see that it'll be too time consuming to remember all the stuff that leads you to the word you're going to be looking for in your target language.

You've got one advantage with Polish, in that their names are very logical because they derive from common Slavic words and phenomena, which not only gives them a somewhat romantic vibe, but also makes the learning way easier. I'd advise you to just sit down and learn the damn months along with their meanings/origins (it's not that hard to learn 12 words anyway), and then randomly practice (with flashcards or an App) throughout your day, by trying to instinctively name 2-3 months. If that doesn't work, look up the answer and repeat on the next day. Eventually it'll sink in.


We have to be careful not to confuse aims and methods. As an eventual aim, you're right - we want to be able to find the word instantly as soon as we reach for it. In the meantime, though, as students, there's nothing wrong with us using techniques like this to help us remember.


^ this. I've always found it beneficial to attack any given learning task from several different directions. Brute force memorisation + learning the derivations of the month names + silly mnemonic tricks is not a bad combination of things. The more connections and mental pathways in one's head, the more likely a given word is to stick around.


This is totally off-subject, but I am a CPA, a certified public accountant (music swells). I took a 6-month review course prior to the test; it's the only way one can pass it. This course was famous for mnemonics and they got crazier & crazier as the months passed. One day, my study partner, a really sweet local housewife, proudly announced that she'd FINALLY memorized one of the longest ones: "I GO SICK PRAY POE." I told her, "Aw, that's just great! OK, go ahead. Recite the words that it stands for." She looked at me blankly. "Oh," she said. "I don't know what any of it STANDS for--I just finally memorized the stupid phrase, "I GO SICK PRAY POE." (Studying for the CPA exam (a 3 day test) really can turn your brain to mush...)


Hihi, I love off-topic comments and I loved your story. It reminds me that the journey is as important as the destination and we should always look for joy in the journey.


The names might be logical but I do (did) not know that list means leaf yet. I only know that it means a letter. And, well, I am learning the months right now, so I have to go with what I have right now.

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