My friend said the other day, "I hate when a sentence starts with the word polish, because you don't know whether they mean polish or Polish."

polish (v) - to make smooth and glossy
Polish (a) - originating from Poland

I'm trying to think of a sentence where either word in the same spot would still make sense, but due to them being 2 different forms of speech I'm at a loss. Better yet, could it be the first word of the sentence?

Edit: both words can take noun form, I knew that but for some reason didn't think of that before/while posting. Obviously this is in the context of reading, so spelling is most important.

  • 4
    This is probably cheating but "'Polish' can make a sentence hard to pronounce".
    – Rupe
    Jun 2, 2014 at 16:41
  • 2
    Sue Taylor, the shoemaker of Oxford St.(verb, imperative, asking Sue to sue Taylor) Sue Taylor, the shoemaker of Oxford St. (surname, a shoemaker named Sue Taylor)
    – P. O.
    Jun 2, 2014 at 17:29
  • 3
    Minute men appeared out of nowhere [uses minute as in small and minute as in the context of the American Revolution, which featured citizen-soldiers who were "ready in a minute"].
    – Robusto
    Jun 2, 2014 at 20:02
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    @Jo Or even “May Sue Ta[i/y]lor Jones die”—a die in the shape of a woman called May Sue Taylor Jones, a hope that Sue Taylor Jones dies, a statement that I might sue a die shaped like Taylor Jones, or a statement that I might sue a die shaped like a tailor named Jones. (Works better orally, obviously.) Jun 2, 2014 at 21:28
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    Polish has changed beyond all recognition over the last century. Jun 2, 2014 at 22:01

8 Answers 8


If you include the noun polish:

Polish (n) - a substance that is rubbed on a surface to make it smooth and shiny

Then you could have this:

  • Polish it is, but affordable it definitely is not!

Otherwise, I fear you're stuck with something along the lines of:

  • Polish or not, it's entirely up to you.

If you'll consider signs and notes, then there is of course this - which could be either a sign on the door of a Warsaw student at the University of Istanbul, or a note to self by an overzealous contestant in a domestic wildfowl fancying competition:

  • Polish Turkey!

I suppose in very brief telegram style, it could be done.

Check/Czech is sadly the other way around (heterographs, rather than homophones); otherwise a note written to the domestic staff that they should only look in on the silverware, never attempt to clean it themselves could also be taken as instructions only to buy silverware from the Czech Republic, never from Poland:

Check silverware, never polish! / Czech silverware, never Polish!

  • Not exactly what I was looking for, but definitely amazing! I lol'd
    – MaKR
    Jun 2, 2014 at 18:44

I’m not sure whether you want answers focusing on the words “polish”/”Polish”, or whether you’re looking for homographs in general.  If you’re looking at the general case, the classic (humorous) example is

Time flies?   You can’t; they fly too fast.

where your first impression of the first two words, “Time flies”, is the old motto that time (noun) seems to go by quickly (flies, verb).  But then the second sentence casts the first one in a new light:

Can you time flies?

in which time is a verb (as in “Time me while I run to the store and back.”) and flies are flying insects (noun).

Oh!  I just remembered a related one:

Time flies like an arrow.   Fruit flies like a banana.

where the first three words are different parts of speech in the two sentences (if you’re willing to consider “fruit” to be an adjective in “fruit flies”).

  • I'm specifically looking for polish/Polish, but this post is more about fun plays on words anyways :)
    – MaKR
    Jun 2, 2014 at 20:02
  • Periodic acid burns are only to be expected. Jun 2, 2014 at 22:04

Polish products have soared in price recently. The pumice mines near Krakow are on strike!


It may be easier if you recognise that 'polish' is also a noun, and then use it as a noun adjunct so it takes the same place in a sentence as an adjective.

So, something like,

"Polish colours of red & white are now available."

  • But Polish is also a noun: "I'll have a Polish with sauerkraut on the side, please." Jun 2, 2014 at 17:18
  • @JohnLawler Is that like at a lap dancing club? The one on the side never smiles? You are the Chuck Norris of heterographs.
    – Frank
    Jun 2, 2014 at 17:59
  • I don't know. But having a Polish is one of the most popular things about Costco in the US. Jun 2, 2014 at 18:34
  • @JohnLawler Now I'm not sure if you're being witty or if "sauerkraut" just doesn't travel well from the UK to the US. Probably best to go no further.
    – Frank
    Jun 2, 2014 at 18:49
  • @JohnLawler - I usually have my Polish with Ginger and Olives (the more the merrier), and after throw in a Mary Jane. Jun 2, 2014 at 18:57

Another answer lies in a joke.  Warning: this is ethnic and may be considered insensitive/offensive.

The dumb guy from Warsaw thought his wife was planning to kill him because he saw that she had bought a bottle of Polish Remover.


Context: theater call board.

Polish rehearsal for Act II will be Friday.

In actual practice it more usually takes the non-sentence form:

Friday 6 June 7:00 p.m.: Act II – Polish.

. . . and we would always try to gull the noobs into thinking it meant we all had to speak our lines in Polish.


Polish removers are made from acetone

Polish removers are made from Nazis.

I still don't understand the confusion. Polish, as in someone/something from Poland, uses the actual O sound from the alphabet, while, polish, the verb, is pronounced Pah-lish

  • It had to do with the written form, specifically my friend had mentioned reading.
    – MaKR
    Jun 3, 2014 at 15:00

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