Why does the Polish word bezpieczny ‘safe’ not mean niebezpieczny ‘dangerous’?
In the light of the linguistic documentation presented in this article, it seems that the original meaning of the Proto-Slavic word *pek-ja was presumably ‘worry’, ‘concern’. This meaning was preserved in Old Polish and was also attested in Old Church Slavonic, Old Czech, Upper Lusatian, and Russian dialects. The word should be related to the Proto-Slavic word *pek-ti ‘burn, bake’ and seen as a representative of many examples of associating emotions with physiological sensations (in this case with a feeling of heat, burning, and smoking). Thus, the Polish word bezpieczny ‘safe’ was created at the time when the word piecza meant ‘worry’, ‘anxiety’, whereas bezpiecza meant a state of mind devoid of such feelings. Therefore, the meaning of the Polish word piecza as ‘care, carefully’ should be viewed as secondary.