[ pee-uhn, pee-on ]
See synonyms for peon on
  1. (in Spanish America) a farm worker or unskilled laborer; day laborer.

  2. (formerly, especially in Mexico) a person held in servitude to work off debts or other obligations.

  1. any person of low social status, especially one who does work regarded as menial or unskilled; drudge.

Origin of peon

1820–30; <Spanish peón peasant, day laborer <Vulgar Latin *pedōn- (stem of *pedō) walker (whence Medieval Latin pedōnēs infantry, Old French peonpawn2), derivative of Latin ped- (stem of pēs) foot

Words that may be confused with peon

Words Nearby peon

Other definitions for peon (2 of 2)

[ pee-uhn, pee-on ]

noun(in India and Sri Lanka)
  1. a messenger, attendant, or orderly.

  2. a foot soldier or police officer.

Origin of peon

1600–10; <Portuguese peão,French pion foot soldier, pedestrian, day laborer. See peon1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use peon in a sentence

  • In the end, the one-trick peon has pulled off more literary tricks than David Copperfield.

  • She was so handy with a needle, and allus ready to cut out calico dingusses that the peon gals could sew up.

    Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher | Eleanor Gates
  • I liked the place, and not long after got employment as a government peon, in the service of the English.

    Confessions of a Thug | Philip Meadows Taylor
  • One sallow, emaciated peon carried a crucifix, which he had evidently snatched as he flew to the rescue.

  • Of course if you should be so unfortunate as to have a peon lift his rifle, you would never reach the truck alive.

    The Flaming Mountain | Harold Leland Goodwin

British Dictionary definitions for peon (1 of 2)


/ (ˈpiːən, ˈpiːɒn) /

  1. a Spanish-American farm labourer or unskilled worker

  2. (formerly in Spanish America) a debtor compelled to work off his debts

  1. any very poor person

Origin of peon

C19: from Spanish peón peasant, from Medieval Latin pedō man who goes on foot, from Latin pēs foot; compare Old French paon pawn ²

British Dictionary definitions for peon (2 of 2)


/ (pjuːn, ˈpiːən, ˈpiːɒn) /

noun(in India, Sri Lanka, etc, esp formerly)
  1. a messenger or attendant, esp in an office

  2. a native policeman

  1. a foot soldier

Origin of peon

C17: from Portuguese peão orderly; see peon 1

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012