[ pee-uh-nij ]
/ ˈpi ə nɪdʒ /


the condition or service of a peon.
the practice of holding persons in servitude or partial slavery, as to work off a debt or to serve a penal sentence.

Origin of peonage

An Americanism dating back to 1840–50; peon1 + -age Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for peonage

British Dictionary definitions for peonage


peonism (ˈpiːəˌnɪzəm)

/ (ˈpiːənɪdʒ) /


the state of being a peon
a system in which a debtor must work for his creditor until the debt is paid off
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

Culture definitions for peonage

[ (pee-uh-nij) ]

A system of forced labor based on debts incurred by workers. Peonage developed particularly in plantation economies, where employers forced laborers to buy from employer-owned stores, pay inflated prices, and stay in debt.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.