The symbol of the cross has been with humans for centuries. Its significance, meticulously described by ethnologists and ethnographers, is not limited to the sacred, though this is the prevailing domain, which is illustrated with selected dictionaries of symbols. The main
concern of the presentation is the semantics of the Polish word krzyż, or ‘cross’ in contemporary Polish, together with the changes it has undergone over the last two decades. The
analyses are based on Polish dictionaries and three questionnaires conducted in ten-year intervals with students in Lublin, Poland. The data show a common cultural base (van Dijk’s shared knowledge) and semantic profiles of krzyż, as well as changes in the semantics, as perceived by the students in Lublin. A comparison is made of extra-linguistic and linguistic symbolic data. For the students of Lublin, the cross is still a symbol of Christianity, suffering and martyrdom. Also stressed is the need for everyone to respect the cross. Unfortunately the questionnaires do not allow one to establish the rank of the cross as a symbol and a value.