Definition

a lowly or unskilled worker, often with low wages and few benefits.

Pronunciation

US English

UK English

Part of speech

noun.

Synonyms

laborer, menial, drudge, servant, wage earner, operative, day laborer, serf, hired hand, minion.

Antonyms

employer, boss, manager, supervisor.

Example sentences

  • In some countries, workers in certain industries are often treated as little more than peons, with few rights or protections from their employers.
  • The company relied heavily on peon labor to do the menial, repetitive work necessary to keep their factories running.
  • Growing up, my family struggled to make ends meet, and my dad often worked long hours as a peon in a factory to provide for us.
  • Some people argue that the low wages and poor working conditions faced by many peons are a form of modern-day slavery.

Usage

The word “peon” is most commonly used to refer to a lowly or unskilled worker, often with low wages and few benefits. The term has negative connotations, suggesting a position of subservience and little prospect for upward mobility or advancement.

The origins of the word are somewhat unclear, but it is thought to have come to English from the Spanish or Portuguese word “peon” or “piao”, meaning a day laborer or farmhand. In some contexts, the word is still used to refer to workers in these industries, but it has broadened in meaning to refer to any low-level worker who does menial or repetitive tasks.

The word “peon” can also be used in compound formations, such as “peonage”, which refers to a system of forced labor or debt bondage, and “peonize”, which means to force someone to work as a peon or in other degrading conditions.

Like many words with negative connotations, “peon” can be seen as pejorative or insulting in some contexts. It can be a source of frustration or offense for those who feel that their work is undervalued or underestimated. However, it can also be a powerful rallying cry for labor unions and advocates who seek to improve the rights and conditions of low-waged workers