Is the Pope Polish?


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Is the Pope Polish?'?

A jokey alternative version of ‘Is the Pope Catholic?‘.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Is the Pope Polish?'?

For many centuries all Popes were Italian and so then, as now, this joke would have been irrelevant. The Polish Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła was elected as Pope in October 1978, taking the the name of Pope John Paul II. He was the first non-Italian Pope since the Dutch Adrian VI in 1523. Up until then the line ‘is the Pope Italian‘ would have had the same rhetorical ring as ‘is the Pope Catholic‘ – because they always were. The opportunity for the double irony of ‘is the Pope Polish‘ was too much for many to resist and the line began appearing in print before 1978 was out.

Trend of is the pope polish ? in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.