Pagar el Pato

Idiom: Pagar el pato
Translation: Pay the duck
Meaning: When someone has to take the blame for someone else’s mistake.

This idiom comes to us from Spain and the Jewish people that lived there over the centuries. It appears that “pato”/”duck” is a deformation of the word “pacto”/”pact”. The huge majority Spanish were Catholics and they saw that at the Jewish temples and synagogues had images of animals inside. The Spanish knew that the Jewish were “paying the covenant with God”, i.e. paying the pact and would mock their religion stating that the Jewish were idolizing animals.

The more common interpretation in the English language for this idiom is to Pay the Piper. This English idiom is based on the story of the Piped Piper and the town in which he exterminated the rats. The town refused to pay the price for the Piper and the Piper then took the town’s kids away as payment.

Marcelo Escobar again provided the image for this post. Please visit Marcelo’s blog ” Tinta Chilena” for more of his art.

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