Definition of peon in English:

peon

Syllabification: pe·on
Pronunciation: /ˈpēˌän, ˈpēən
 
/

noun

1A Spanish-American day laborer or unskilled farm worker.
More example sentences
  • After playing the game for 50 minutes, the computer will have successfully constructed one farm and three peons, each of which are harvesting lumber for no reason.
  • Coal is simply harvested by henchmen (peasant or peons for the rest of you) and these two resources are all that's needed to wage war.
  • This is a big time saver as far as training peasants, peons, wisps, and acolytes, which serve as the gatherers of lumber and gold and also provide the muscle to construct your base structures.
1.1 historical A debtor held in servitude by a creditor, especially in the southern US and Mexico.
More example sentences
  • This political art project was designed to compensate the impoverished peons of Mexico for the failure of the 1910-1919 revolution led by Zapata and Pancho Villa.
  • Thus the Southern peon is not, in fact, and as an individual, as irrevocably bound to the wheel of industry as his Northern brother, since he may always escape to churldom.
1.2North American A person who does menial work; a drudge: racing drivers aren’t exactly normal nine-to-five peons
More example sentences
  • ‘They talk about who's in charge and who are the peons,’ he says.
  • She was a smart mechanic, but she was still a mere peon to the vassal that owned her.
2(In South and Southeast Asia) someone of low rank.
More example sentences
  • He also shows how peons sought to escape military demands and to redefine their relationship with the state by migrating, changing identity, and reinventing a new political and military persona.
  • Harvesting of the plant was a speculative enterprise, with Indian debt peons spending months in the forest harvesting, drying and bailing the crop.
  • They had come from the slums of the favelas with a dream of being a patron of a large estate centered with a grand hacienda: Indian peons would work their wide acreage and cater to their needs.

Origin

from Portuguese peão and Spanish peón, from medieval Latin pedo, pedon- 'walker, foot soldier', from Latin pes, ped- 'foot'. Compare with pawn1.

Derivatives

peonage

Pronunciation: /ˈpēənij/
noun
More example sentences
  • The transaction carries overtones of moves to reduce the autonomy of rural African Americans with the debt peonage of sharecropping or exploitation in industrial mills.
  • Practices specifically outlawed - such as debt peonage, where subjects are trapped in an unending cycle of indebtedness for necessities of life which cannot be overcome through their labor - were in reality widespread.
  • It is even more doubtful whether the colonialists often actually intended the physical extermination of indigenous peoples rather than their displacement, peonage, or enslavement, and conversion to Christianity.

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Word of the day demoralize
Pronunciation: dɪˈmɒrəlʌɪz
verb
cause (someone) to lose confidence or hope