peon

1
[ pee-uh n, pee-on ]
/ ˈpi ən, ˈpi ɒn /

noun

(in Spanish America) a farm worker or unskilled laborer; day laborer.
(formerly, especially in Mexico) a person held in servitude to work off debts or other obligations.
any person of low social status, especially one who does work regarded as menial or unskilled; drudge.

Origin of peon

1
1820–30; < Spanish peón peasant, day laborer < Vulgar Latin *pedōn- (stem of *pedō) walker (whence Medieval Latin pedōnēs infantry, Old French peon pawn2), derivative of Latin ped- (stem of pēs) foot

Can be confused

paean paeon peon

Definition for peon (2 of 2)

peon

2
[ pee-uh n, pee-on ]
/ ˈpi ən, ˈpi ɒn /

noun (in India and Sri Lanka)

a messenger, attendant, or orderly.
a foot soldier or police officer.

Origin of peon

2
1600–10; < Portuguese peão, French pion foot soldier, pedestrian, day laborer. See peon1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for peon

British Dictionary definitions for peon (1 of 2)

peon

1
/ (ˈpiːən, ˈpiːɒn) /

noun

a Spanish-American farm labourer or unskilled worker
(formerly in Spanish America) a debtor compelled to work off his debts
any very poor person

Word Origin for 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)

peon

2
/ (pjuːn, ˈpiːən, ˈpiːɒn) /

noun (in India, Sri Lanka, etc, esp formerly)

a messenger or attendant, esp in an office
a native policeman
a foot soldier

Word Origin for 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