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According to CC-CEDICT, this means both "foot" and "leg". How does one know when this word refers to either foot or leg? It is difficult to discern when CC-CEDICT does not include sample sentences.

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It's foot. leg is 腿. (funny, I couldn't post a answer, an error was reported, but add a comment is fine) –  Fivesheep Feb 14 '12 at 5:51
    
MDBG can give example sentences –  trideceth12 Feb 14 '12 at 9:02
    
Not very constructive, but it's not uncommon in many languages to name leg and foot with same word. –  Petruza Feb 14 '12 at 17:00
    
I'm a native Chinese speaker and I have never seen this word before in my life! I'm glad to learn it here. Thank you for that. Just out of curiosity, where did you see this? –  Laguna Feb 14 '12 at 21:21
    
Hard to believe you've never seen it. Could it just be the difference between 脚 (simplified) and 腳 (traditional)? –  Bathrobe Feb 15 '12 at 0:38
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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

脚 is 'foot', 腿 is 'leg', but in some dialects of Chinese 脚 is used for both foot and leg (I know this is the case in some Sichuan dialects).

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I found that at least some Mandarin speakers (I don't know about other dialects of Chinese) use the word 脚 loosely. For example, if they say "我的脚不舒服" it might actually mean their leg doesn't feel good rather than their foot doesn't feel good. However, they wouldn't say "我的腿不舒服" to mean their foot is uncomfortable. So, 脚 seems to be a more general term and 腿 a more specific term.

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I agree. In fact, when I said 'some dialects of Chinese', I meant 'some dialects of Mandarin in its widest sense'. Unfortunately it's hard to cover all Mandarin dialects with one word in Chinese. 北方话 would be good, except that doesn't cover Sichuan! Saying 'dialects of Chinese' includes totally different things like Cantonese and Hokkienese, etc. So, yes, I agree with you that some 'Mandarin' speakers do tend to use 腳 loosely. –  Bathrobe Feb 15 '12 at 0:35
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