Spanish word of the week: pata

la pata NOUN leg

In English the word leg applies to people, animals and furniture. In Spanish you use pata for animals and furniture, and pierna for people.

las patas de la silla the chair legs
un elefante atado de la pata delantera an elephant tied up by its front leg

Pata is also used colloquially to refer to people’s legs, especially in phrases such as meter la pata to put your foot in it:

Para mí, que acabas de meter la pata. I think you’ve just put your foot in it.
Tengo miedo de meter la pata. I’m scared of putting my foot in it.

and patas arriba in a mess:

Los chicos nos han dejado la casa patas arriba. The kids have left the house in a mess.

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