Rzeczpospolita ([ʐɛt͡ʂpɔˈspɔlita] (About this soundlisten)) is the official name of Poland and a traditional name for some of its predecessor states. It is a compound of rzecz "thing, matter" and pospolita "common", a calque of Latin res publica (res "thing" + publica "public, common"), i.e. republic, in English also rendered as commonwealth (historic) and republic (current).

3rd Rzeczpospolita, shown within the European Union (member since 2004)

In Poland, the word Rzeczpospolita is used exclusively in relation to the Republic of Poland, while any other republic is referred to in Polish as a republika, e.g., Italian Republic — Polish: Republika Włoska.


the term rzeczpospolita has been used in Poland since the beginning of the 16th century. Originally it was a generic term to denote a state or a commonness. The famous quote by Jan Zamoyski, the Lord Chancellor of the Crown, on the importance of education, is an example of its use:

Polish: Takie będą Rzeczypospolite, jakie ich młodzieży chowanie.
Such will be the Commonwealths as the upbringing of their youth.

— Jan Zamoyski, Foundation Act of the Academy of Zamość; 1600

The meaning of rzeczpospolita is well described by the term commonwealth. As a result, the literal meaning of Rzeczpospolita Polska is "Polish Commonwealth", or "Republic of Poland". However, the connotation with the term republic may be somewhat misleading in the context of the Polish State within the period of the 16th to the 18th century, because Poland in that time was an elective monarchy and the rzeczpospolita was reflected in the official name, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The three RzeczpospolitasEdit

Rzeczpospolita is also used in a series of symbolic names referring to three periods in the History of Poland:[a]

Other usageEdit

Expressions that make use the concept of rzeczpospolita include:

  • Rzeczpospolita szlachecka – Republic of Nobles (szlachta), another name for the I Rzeczpospolita;
  • Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów – The Commonwealth of the Two Nations, another name for the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth;
  • Rzeczpospolita BabińskaBabin Republic, a satirical, literary society, founded by a group of nobles during the second half of the 16th century;
  • Rzeczpospolita KrakowskaFree City of Kraków or Republic of Kraków (1815–1846);
  • Rzeczpospolita ZakopiańskaRepublic of Zakopane, a short-lasting form of an independent state, established for about a month in October 1918;
  • Polska Rzeczpospolita LudowaPeople's Republic of Poland, a name used formally from 1952 to 1990. Was often abbreviated to simply "Rzeczpospolita Polska" or "PRL". Sometimes referenced (wrongly) to the post-war period 1944–1952;
  • Czwarta RzeczpospolitaFourth Polish Republic, a slogan used by the political party Law and Justice.

Nowadays, the terms Rzeczpospolita and Rzeczpospolita Polska are used interchangeably, so far as they relate to the Polish State by default.

Before 1939, Rzeczpospolita was sometimes abbreviated to Rzplita in written documents, while RP is still a common abbreviation for Rzeczpospolita Polska.

The Lithuanian word Žečpospolita is a direct borrowing from Polish. The East Slavic equivalents of the name are: Russian: Речь Посполитая, romanizedRječ Pospolitaja; Ukrainian: Річ Посполита, romanizedRič Pospolyta; Belarusian: Рэч Паспалітая, romanizedReč Paspalitaja.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The above list is not a complete list of official titles for the Polish State throughout its history; it is a list of those which are referred to as a rzeczpospolita.


  • "Polska. Historia. Trzecia Rzeczpospolita" (in Polish). PWN online encyclopedia. Retrieved 29 March 2020.

External linksEdit