There are a few sightly strange phrases featured in The Witcher TV series:

I'm not one to look a gift cock in the beak... (Don't look a gift horse in the mouth)

Playing priest's ear... (Playing devil's advocate)

Are these literal translations of e.g. Polish metaphors, or are they just invented for the show to give it an otherworldly feel?

  • See also: Cutting your ear to spite your face (Four marks) - would seem to imply these are Witcher-universe sayings (ie. this one based on elvish ears).
    – Ava
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 23:14

1 Answer 1


The Polish version of 'don't look a gift horse in the mouth' is 'don't check the teeth of a horse you received as a gift' ("darowanemu koniowi w zęby się nie zagląda") (source).
Similarly, devil's advocate seems to be the same thing in Polish.

And, as far as I know, these idioms don't appear in the English translations. Unless someone read the books in Polish and recognizes these expressions, I suppose they are indeed variations to give an "otherworldly feel" to the TV series.
Moreover, I can imagine that 'playing the devil's advocate' could evoke unwanted associations, and potentially throw off viewers.

I'd like to add that I don't think one would tell the age of a cock by its beak. It might have been implemented as an additional layer of humour, since the one talking about it is Yarpen Zigrin, a dwarf, too short (at first glance) to be able to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Similarly, as 'devils' in the world of The Witcher are common entities, synonymous with sylvans (like Torque in Episode 2), 'playing priest's ear' makes a lot more sense in-universe.

  • 4
    I have read the books in polish and do not recognize these sayings. To fully complete your answer someone who played the games should also provide information
    – TK-421
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 7:08
  • 1
    As far as I know, these phrases don't appear in the game, but sometimes characters refer to people's mouth's as beak. That is the only similarity I can think of.
    – RigaCrypto
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 10:15
  • Played all the games, the phrase "look a gift cock in the beak" definitely doesn't appear. Not as certain about "priest's ear"; that phrase feels vaguely familiar though I can't say it's in the game either.
    – aroth
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 0:58

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