I've heard people using both gambo or kruro for leg. Is there a difference between them? Somebody said that maybe one of the two is only from the knee and down. Is this correct?

3 Answers 3


From PIV:

gamb/o: Tuto de la malsupra membro de homo.


gamb/o: The entire lower member of a human.

And, for kruro


1 Malsupra membro de dupiedulo, antaŭa aŭ malantaŭa membro de kvarpiedulo, aŭ membro de artropodo

2 ❤ (crus) Parto de la malsupra (aŭ malantaŭa) membro de la vertebruloj, inter genuo k piedo

3 Analoga parto ĉe objekto



1 Lower member [limb] of a biped, front or hind member of a quadruped, or a member of an arthropod

2 ❤ (crus) Part of the lower (or hind) member of vertebrates, between knee and foot

3 Analogous part of an object

The ❤ indicates use in biology and histology. So, at least according to PIV, the differences are:

  • Gambo always refers to the entire lower limb, while kruro in some contexts is only the part between knee and foot.

  • Gambo is only used for human legs, while kruro can also refer to the legs of animals, arthropods, and objects such as furniture.

I have also noticed that kruro is more commonly used, even for human legs.

  • Note that gamb/ is a neologism (neither Fundamenta, nor official), while krur/ is Fundamenta. That's something to keep in mind. Anyway, in decades of Esperanto I've never used gambo and I don't remember hearing it. Just stick to krur. By the way, when citing definitions the status of the word should be listed. In Esperanto it is part of the definition. Commented May 18, 2020 at 14:48

Modern dictionaries assert that the kruro is the shank (knee to ankle), at least in medical contexts, while the gambo is the whole leg including the foot.

However, this is a modern distinction and older Esperanto text (all from Zamenhof's time) only uses kruro. I think the Ido word gambo may have been imported by Johannes Dietterle for his visual dictionary but I'm not sure.

  • 3
    I agree with the first line. I disagree with the second line. The trouble with "older" text is not that they don't use gambo but that it's defined differently in all different places. Even some newer books get it wrong. I also recall that human/non-human factors in to some of the definitions. Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 17:21
  • Looks like the "second line" has been edited. Much better now. Thanks. Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 23:19
  • Glad I could help! Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 1:07

The fact that there is such disagreement between words like gambo & kruro is really detrimental to the widespread acceptance of Esperanto. There has to be a clear distinction between the two. If one is only a part of the leg & the other is the leg as a whole, that distinction should be made. The same thing goes for vidi / rigardi / spekti. There is a good Esperanto dictionary that I use called glosbe that allows you to compare all of the similar meanings of a word in many languages. It is contributed to by users so it's not 100% perfect, but I haven't found anything else better. Glosbe does list gambo as the whole leg & kruro as the lower half of the leg. With the word for leg specifically though, The word piedo is also listed as a translation. That makes me think of toki pona. The toki pona word noka means foot or leg & the which one it is must be guessed by context. If you're not familiar with toki pona it only has ~125 words so this kind of thing happens a lot in toki pona.

  • 2
    No, it isn't detrimental. For specific contexts, like medicine and biology, you need a way to specify (which kristan seems to have done), but for everyday use you don't. There are languages which use one word for everything below one's hip, and that's often enough. Commented May 16, 2020 at 19:43
  • I suppose I didn't word it clearly. What I meant is that there are likely a lot of people who don't understand the difference between gambo & kruro, as with vidi/rigardi/spekti. What is detrimental is there being such apparent ambiguity because people aren't being taught the difference between similar words & when to use one over another. It's the same thing as look vs see vs view in English.
    – jastako
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 20:46
  • Andrew Woods gives in his answer a plausible explanation. You can use kruro in most non-medical contexts for every part. Heck, I don't know what's the difference between gambo and kruro or foot and leg without resorting to an anatomy book. Commented May 18, 2020 at 7:36
  • That's why we have an language academy that will let new words be considered official based on their meaning. That's why it is SOOOO important to list definitions of Esperanto roots with their current status. Otherwise people might end up asking the difference between printempo and primavero or, things like presi and printi. Commented May 18, 2020 at 14:51
  • @JuhaMetsäkallas Again at the risk of beating a dead horse, my point is if there is a need to consult a medical book to figure out the difference between two words, then the best choice is to only use one word. Having one word be only for people & another word for people & animals is ridiculous. It's like German having 6 ways of saying "the".
    – jastako
    Commented Jun 27, 2021 at 18:24

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