Ukrainian: помиї


Senior Member
Hello everyone,

I'm having trouble understanding the lyrics of the Ukrainian song "Чи не пішов би ти на"; namely, I can't understand what "помиї" refers to in the following segment, nor what significance the act of drinking "помиї" might have:

Що забула дорогенька
Чиї помиї пила

Ти, козел, мене не страш
Не мий мені ноги

As far as I gather, "помиї" is the filthy water that remains after something has been washed (брудна вода після прання або миття чого-небудь). However, I can't link that to the song - why is the grandfather suggesting that the grandmother has forgotten whose filthy water she drank? Perhaps the second definition of "помиї" might be more applicable here: вода від миття посуду з залишками їжі, рештками продуктів. Namely, it might be that the grandmother has drunk the water mixed with bits of food that remained after she had washed the dishes from which the grandfather had eaten. If so, she has shown her inferiority - she has humiliated herself by drinking/eating the grandfather's leftovers, so now he's reminding her that in view of that fact, it is absurd of her to try to be arrogant with him. Is this what the song is trying to convey?

Meanwhile, what does "не мий мені ноги" have to do with everything else? I think that this is also related to "помиї" because after someone's feet have been washed, a bowl of "помиї" is produced. If it's not, I'll open a new thread about it. Anyhow, I reckon that I'm missing something important because I'm not really familiar with Ukrainian. So, could someone clarify matters for me?

Thank you in advance

P.S. If you have the answer but can't provide me with it in English, bear in mind that I wouldn't mind a response in Ukrainian or Russian.
  • Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Very interesting, this is called pomije (pl.) in Slovenian. Don't you have any similar word in Macedonian?


    Senior Member
    Yes, there is an equivalent word in Macedonian, namely "помија" (it's usually singular, interestingly enough), and it has the same meaning as in Ukrainian, namely water with leftovers. However, it's not often used for people, but rather for livestock; usually it can be translated as "swill" or "slop". It is primarily associated with pigs, it would appear. Furthermore, colloquially it can be used to refer to poorly cooked food, especially liquid food such as soups or broths. One can insult a cook by asking him why he's serving you a "помија", for instance. In any case, my problem with "помиї" in the song wasn't so much the meaning of the word, but its usage in the context. I recognised it as a cognate of Macedonian "помија" - I was just unsure as to what eating someone else's "помиї" implies, particularly in view of the line "не мий мені ноги" in the following stanza (which turned out to have an unrelated meaning, namely "don't try to fool/confuse me", i.e. "не дури мне голову").


    Senior Member
    Ukraine, Ukrainian
    "помиї" applicable here = вода від миття посуду з залишками їжі without detergent and salt.
    "помиї" are fed to pigs.
    Liquid food for cattle - warm water with bran, flour and so on "пійло". Is fed to pigs also.
    "брудна вода" = no clean water
    after washing /після прання/ = "змилки"
    Say "Що забула дорогенька Чиї помиї пила" is humiliation.


    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    This is a very late reply, but for what it's worth, the whole song is a dialogue between an old man and his wife. They both accuse each other of sleeping around with others in the village.

    The two verses you mention refer to a Ukrainian saying: Ногу би мив (мила) і ту воду би пив (пила). This refers to someone who is so completely smitten by another person that he would even drink the wash water his lover had bathed in.

    In the song, the old man accuses the woman of having loved other men (Що забула дорогенька / Чиї помиї пила). She replies basically that he deserved it and that he is no better.

    Another reading could be that he tells her she has forgotten that she once loved him. She replies that he has done the same (Не мий мені ноги).