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Usage help: την πατήσαμε

Hello! So, I've come across the above phrase and could do with a hand on its usage. Context: it's in a children's book and some robbers are chasing an alligator which has stolen their stolen jewels. Here's the sentence in full, said by one of the robbers:

Την πατήσαμε - κοίτα που τώρα ο αλιγάτορας σταμάτησε για να κυλιστεί στην άμμο.

I've got a few questions:

  • I'm guessing την πατήσαμε is idiomatic as I understand it literally as something like 'we stepped in it' - is that correct?
  • If that's correct, what is 'it' referring to and why is the feminine article used?
  • The references I've found to την πατήσαμε online and any translations of it are... a little strong to be in a kid's book, I would have thought. Probably the least strong rendering of it would be 'we're screwed'. Is it a bit of a swear term, or it is perhaps like 'we're damned' in that it's not particularly offensive? (Or hasn't been offensive for many years)

Happy New Year to you all and any help is much appreciated as always!

January 2, 2017



Yes, την πατήσαμε or την κάτσαμε or την πάθαμε or την βάψαμε (or or or :P) means "we are screwed", "we got tricked" or "we got a problem". It does not sound as offensive as in English because it does not have the actual slangy meaning of "screw". As you said, it just means "we stepped on it". I would actually translate it better as "fell for" or "had it bad". The etymologies: about "την πατήσαμε": "την" refers maybe to a banana skin (=μπανανόφλουδα) that stepping on has the results we all know about, "την κάτσαμε (τη βάρκα)"=means something like "the boat is so full that does not move well and water comes in" litteraly "we stilled the boat", "την πάθαμε (την ατυχία)"= bad luck! lit."bad luck happened to us". The etymology I know of "την βάψαμε" lit. "we painted it" is very slangy so I will not write it here.... ;D
PS: I really love those children's books' questions you have. :P

  • 1545

Thank you so much Troll, that really helps a lot! I try not to ask too many questions from the kid's books... don't want to clog up the message boards with too many weird questions! I can usually figure out most things by myself, but idioms are quite hard, as I guess they are in all languages.

There aren't a huge amount of resources or decent textbooks for learners of Modern Greek - certainly not compared to French or Spanish, for example - so I thought it might be a good idea to get some children's books when I was in Εύβοια in September. It's only been the past month or so (after seven months of Memrise + Duo, with a vocab now approaching 6,000 words) that I've really started to be able to make sense of them though. They're actually helping a lot and I'll buy a load more next time I'm in Greece. Glad the queries are keeping you entertained, anyway!


I do like those Children's books questions as well. It might be because I'm still reading children's books, the idiomatic language that's frequently used seems pretty funny to me, especially now that I'm older.

So no worries.They are quite entertaining, and we are here to clear things up for you. xD

Also, may I add to Troll's great answer and say that "Την έχουμε βαμμένη" (we have her painted) is also something you hear quite a lot, having the same meaning with "την βάψαμε". xP

  • 1545

Thanks for the kind words Dimitra - the whole community here is absolutely great, but you and Troll in particular have been an enormous help and it's much appreciated.

Την έχουμε βαμμένη - that's another one I'll add to Memrise!


You are most welcome! ^.^

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