Definition of peon in English:



  • 1A Spanish-American day labourer or unskilled farm worker.

    • ‘The power you think you wield is limited to a few faithful peons.’
    • ‘In this world, you are unable to control any peasants or peons directly.’
    • ‘He was foolish to think that anything but fear could rule these peons.’
    • ‘Then again, if empty words and promises is all that it takes to placate the peons that inhabit the hinterlands, then why go through the bother of even trying to provide real solutions?’
    • ‘Unfortunately, he didn't say a word about how we peons could implement this idea in our classes, so it seemed a bit unapproachable.’
    • ‘If you are going to play favorites, don't tell us peons about it.’
    • ‘If you'll excuse me, I am rather busy, and don't care to discuss civic reform with peons.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Now will you tell us lowly peons what we're doing here?’
    • ‘Over the years, the self-described ‘former tyrant’ has learned that a company comes to life when it treats its staff as peers rather than as peons.’
    • ‘The earth-shattering declaration (which was an absolute absurdity, really) came from a tall, willowy girl surrounded by what could only be classified as a gaggle of peons.’
    • ‘Spanish-speaking peon laborers from Venezuela arrived in the nineteenth century to clear forests and work in cocoa cultivation.’
    • ‘I will not waste my precious time with peons such at these.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘After the 1979 revolution, they argued that women cannot be judges, and they made us all into peons in the ministry of justice.’
    • ‘When catalyzed with money, governmentium becomes administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy, since it has one-half as many peons but twice as many morons.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Although we'd love to see that record in print, too, us superior folk would no longer have anything to lord over the peons.’
    • ‘Don't worry, it's just a little incentive to get her to socialize with us peons.’
    • ‘In 1901, the councillors gave up the privilege of having peons who used to accompany them during assessments and inspections.’
    1. 1.1North American A person who does menial work.
      ‘racing drivers aren't exactly nine-to-five peons’
      • ‘‘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.’
      servant, domestic servant, domestic, drudge, maid of all work
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    2. 1.2historical A debtor held in servitude by a creditor, especially in the southern US and Mexico.
      • ‘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.’
  • 2(in South and SE Asia) a low-ranking soldier or worker.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘From Old French, it went to Portuguese which gave it to Indian languages as peon: one who walks ahead of the master, a factotum.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For the footsoldiers of such opposition are usually the same poor peons whose livelihood derives from cultivating cannabis or coca.’
    worker, factory worker, manual worker, unskilled worker, blue-collar worker, workman, workwoman, workperson, working man, labourer, operative, hired hand, hireling, roustabout, employee, artisan
    View synonyms
  • 3

    another term for banderillero
    • ‘During the preliminary phase the footmen, peones or capeadores work the bull with large magenta and gold capes while carefully appraising its agility, intelligence, dangers, sight and, most importantly, its strength.’


From Portuguese peão and Spanish peón, from medieval Latin pedo, pedon- ‘walker, foot soldier’, from Latin pes, ped- ‘foot’. Compare with pawn.