|Previous words of the update...|
I love that word. Though moving on to its definition and roots...
Pronunciation Key (A NEW feature ^_^) pee-on;
1. A) An unskilled laborer or farm worker of Latin
America or the southwest United States. (And I'm supposing, too, one of
those illegal aliens that manages to outrun border patrol and get themselves
into the US of A only to work at a demeaning job earning less than the
average human is worth simply because they don't possess a card of Green
or the ability to speak English without saying "You want fries with that?"
at the end of every statement. Not to be prejudist, because that also pretty
much describes the average teenager. -_-)
2. A menial worker; a drudge. This also includes the illegal alien/average teenager as described above.
3. In India and other parts of South and Southeast Asia, a person of menial position, especially a messenger, servant, or foot soldier.
In Spanish, the word for peon also takes the meaning of 'day laborer' from Medieval Latin 'pedo' and 'pedon-' meaning 'foot soldier'.
Traveling to India anytime soon? Well, in India, policemen, office attendants and messengers alike are all considered peons.
4. A day laborer; a servant; especially, in some of the Spanish American countries, debtor held by his creditor in a form of qualified servitude, to work out a debt. (This is another area in which the prostitute would fit in.)
For the computer people out there, a peon is also (in jargon at least) considered to be a person with no special privileges or access on a computer system. So considering that many of us high school students are all but locked out of the school's computer system, we are peons!
Examples of usage:
1. "Get on your knees, peon!" A derogatory use of the word, it is meant to insult and imply the person being called a peon is subhuman, or at the very least, less than that of the name-caller.
2. "Look at those mindless peons plowing the fields for pennies, the fools." Also, an insult to the persons being called peons, however implying that they are workers getting little pay. (This, too, is another area where the illegal alien/average teenager/prostitute can fit.)
3. "Give the package to the office peon, he'll deliver it." Implying that the peon is the lowest ranking person in the office setting, a messenger.
4. "I can't create an account on the system for you, I'm only a peon there. Though if I use my hacking skills it'll be a snap. Shh, don't tell my all-powerful boss, he'll kill me then dump my body on the street." Though I went a bit overboard on that one and all but lost the implied meaning of PEON, in this instance it was used to express the low level of power the speaker had... legally.
Woo, and there you go for usage. As far as roots...
Upon examining the two syllables of the word ('pe' and 'on') personally, I haven't a clue where it came from. My guess; some disgruntled old kingly dude was going slightly senile and called one of his manservants (or prostitutes, seeing as back in the golden olden days they very well could have been the same thing) a peon and thus it stuck better than 'cowabunga' (which has absolutely nothing to do with the word peon in any way.) However, using my oh-so-vast knowledge of Latin, I have come to this very (VERY) daft conclusion:
The first two letters of the word 'peon' are 'pe', that is one letter away from 'ped' which means 'foot' or 'footed'. (As in 'pedestrian' or 'biped'... though I wonder what it's doing in 'pedophile'*...) As such, one can determine that 'peon' has something to do with feet. People and animals alike walk on their feet and also work while using their feet. Thus, a person possessing a job or status that requires from them excessive walking or usage of their feet would have some relation to the word 'ped'. However, calling people 'feet' or 'footed' (back when Latin was still alive) would be silly so 'on' was added to the end because it implied that the person was indeed in the possession of feet, but also that they had to use them much more than the lazy aristos of the society.
In actuality, I'm only certain on 'ped'... though I'm still curious as to why it's in 'pedophile'*...
Well, there you have it. That is probably more than you cared to know about the word 'peon', but I felt I owed it to all of you to impart that knowledge. Next time you're in India, don't forget to look an Indian police officer in the eye, point and say "peon!" while snapping many photos of him/her and dancing around them claiming to be a member of some cult that steals peoples souls... And if you ever do that I want video footage.
*Due to my friend's vast knowledge of Latin, I have figured out why "ped" (meaning "feet" or "footed" in Latin) is also in the word "pedofile". As it turns out, "ped" or "pedo" also involves "children" and "-phile" or "-philo". Which means pedophile (or pedophilia) is the love of children, which is interpreted in a perverse way.
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