pe·​on | \ˈpē-ˌän, -ən also pā-ˈōnfor sense 2, British also ˈpyünfor sense 1 \
plural peons or peones\ pā-​ˈō-​nēz \

Definition of peon 

1 : any of various workers in India, Sri Lanka, or Malaysia: such as

a : infantryman

b : orderly

2 [ Spanish peón, from Latin pedon-, pedo ] : a member of the landless laboring class in Spanish America

3 plural peons

a : a person held in compulsory servitude to a master for the working out of an indebtedness

b : drudge, menial

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Examples of peon in a Sentence

“Those rich politicians don't care about peons like us,” she complained. the company had plenty of low-paying positions for people who were content to be peons all their lives

Recent Examples on the Web

Why not a single-player (or co-op) crush-the-peons frenzy mode? Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Onrush game review: Sexy arcade racing in serious need of a tune-up," 5 June 2018 Rod Steiger and James Coburn team as a pair of revolutionaries with Steiger unfortunately cast as a Mexican peon and Coburn as a visiting Irish bomb-thrower. J. Hoberman, New York Times, "Sam Fuller and Fritz Lang: Audacious Auteurs of Noir," 27 Apr. 2018 In de Reygades’ world, peons and aristocrats chat around living room sets while doctors fill their medicine bags with helpings of borrowed bread and wine., "Banned in 1700s, 'Astucias' is still a relatable comedy about class and money," 12 Feb. 2018 That peon class provided the foundation on which all those myths and conceptions were built. ... Michael Harriot, The Root, "We Were 8 Years in Power Moves Ta-Nehisi Coates to Top of Black America’s Draft Board," 2 Oct. 2017 But of course rows and rows of seats were taped off to keep the peons away from the great man, and the car was swarmed with Secret Service agents at every station, at God knows what cost. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Washington’s Jet Set," 29 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'peon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of peon

1609, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for peon

Portuguese peão & French pion, from Medieval Latin pedon-, pedo foot soldier — more at pawn

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The first known use of peon was in 1609

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English Language Learners Definition of peon

: a person who does hard or boring work for very little money : a person who is not very important in a society or organization

: a poor farm worker especially in Latin America


pe·​on | \ˈpē-ˌän \

Kids Definition of peon

: a person who does hard or dull work for very little money

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