IT’S A WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ BONANZA!
Origin of peon1
Words nearby peon
Definition for peon (2 of 2)
noun (in India and Sri Lanka)
Origin of peon2
What does peon mean?
A peon is a person of low social status, especially one who does unskilled work and is poorly treated.
Peon was once used in a more specific way to refer to farmworkers and other unskilled laborers in Mexico and parts of the United States.
Example: People are going to keep quitting if management keeps treating them like peons.
Where does peon come from?
Peon was once more commonly used in India or Sri Lanka to refer to a police officer or an infantry soldier. This word derives from the Portuguese peão, which comes from the French pion, meaning “foot soldier,” “pedestrian,” or “day laborer.” The first records of this sense of peon come from the 1600s.
The sense of the word that was used in parts of North and Central America is first recorded in the 1800s. It comes from the Spanish peón, meaning “peasant” or “day laborer.” The word derives from the Latin root ped-, meaning “foot” (as seen in words like pedal and pedestrian).
Historically, peons worked on their feet. In parts of the U.S., the word referred to farm workers and other low-paid, unskilled laborers. In Mexico, peons were those who were forced to work in low-paying positions to pay off debts. Today, peon is used more generally to refer to poor people or those who perform menial labor—work that is often considered lowly and degrading. The word peon often implies that such a person receives poor treatment or is being exploited. In this sense, low-income workers are sometimes called peons to highlight the poor conditions they often have to work in.
The term is also used to describe anyone who has to do drudgework, such as an intern who’s ordered to fetch coffee for their supervisors. In this usage, it’s often intended to be humorous.
Did you know ... ?
What are some synonyms for peon?
What are some words that share a root or word element with peon?
What are some words that often get used in discussing peon?
What are some words peon may be commonly confused with?
How is peon used in real life?
Today, peon is most commonly used to refer to a lowly and poorly treated worker. It’s especially used as a criticism not of the worker but of their treatment.
Placed my 5 day notice. Felt bad for a minute and then thought about all the times I was treated like a peon. Go where you're appreciated 🤘🏻
— Patrick Simonis (@pSimonis8) January 29, 2017
Our government at this point is just a kind of skeletal lending institution that shoulders all of the risk of corporate America with none of the profits and voters and taxpayers are debt peons whose lives and well-being are sacrificed to maintain the kleptocracy.
— Emily Witt (@embot) March 26, 2020
"bring me kibble, and feed it to me one by one as i contenplate my own glory, peon" pic.twitter.com/fF6C2rMvfn
— ترکتازی (@PasturesPolitic) March 14, 2020
Try using peon!
Which of the following words is not a synonym of peon?
Example sentences from the Web for peon
Maget stepped forward, to try and comfort Juan; the peon struck out at him, and whirled around.
At this moment the door opened, and a peon who entered said a few words in a low voice to Don Tadeo.The Pearl of the Andes|Gustave Aimard
As I passed through the gateway I asked a peon to send Enriquez to me.Selected Stories|Bret Harte
One went a little aside of its mark, and striking a peon who had ventured to look over the wall, killed him instantly.Jones of the 64th|F. S. (Frederick Sadleir) Brereton
There is a pipe on the wharf and when the peon sees the receipt he will fill your tanks.Brandon of the Engineers|Harold Bindloss