Have you played “ducks and drakes?

Duck (pato) you may know. A drake (pato macho) is a male duck. Sometimes ducks and drakes fly very close to the surface of lake water.

“Ducks and drakes” is a game, and an expression with a number of uses. Contemplate the following.

  • Mr. Morales went with Mr. Johnson, the British Prime Minister, to the lake to play ducks and drakes. This is a game whereby Mr. Morales throws flat stones on a lake so that they skim (to skim = pasar casi rozando) along the surface of the water.

  • The one whose stone goes the furthest is the winner. This is a game that started in 1575 in England. The Spanish equivalent is “hacer cabrillas”.

Ordinary mortals used stones.

Sometimes those that were “swimming in money” used coins: as a result some expressions developed. The view was that this was a careless way to use money. Such rich mortals were “squandering” (despilfarrando) money.
As a result, “ducks and drakes” refers to using money recklessly (imprudentemente), or treating people badly. An example:

  • Mr. Sanchez is playing ducks and drakes with government money. This means he is using the money unwisely, and not being careful.

Ducks and drakes can also refer to treating people badly. An example:

  • Some governments play ducks and drakes with people. For example, Mr. Maduro, the Venezuelan dictator, plays ducks and drakes with ordinary people. This means that he treats them carelessly, not caring what they think or feel.

So, have you played ducks and drakes before? Have you played ducks and drakes with other people´s money? Have you played ducks and drakes with other people? Perhaps, the first option?

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