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peon1

[pee-uh n, pee-on] /ˈpi ən, ˈpi ɒn/
noun
1.
(in Spanish America) a farm worker or unskilled laborer; day laborer.
2.
(formerly, especially in Mexico) a person held in servitude to work off debts or other obligations.
3.
any person of low social status, especially one who does work regarded as menial or unskilled; drudge.
Origin
1820-1830
1820-30; < Spanish peón peasant, day laborer < Vulgar Latin *pedōn- (stem of *pedō) walker (whence Medieval Latin pedōnēs infantry, Old French peon pawn2), derivative of Latin ped- (stem of pēs) foot

peon2

[pee-uh n, pee-on] /ˈpi ən, ˈpi ɒn/
noun, (in India and Sri Lanka)
1.
a messenger, attendant, or orderly.
2.
a foot soldier or police officer.
Origin
1600-10; < Portuguese peão, French pion foot soldier, pedestrian, day laborer. See peon1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for peon

peon1

/ˈpiːən; ˈpiːɒn/
noun
1.
a Spanish-American farm labourer or unskilled worker
2.
(formerly in Spanish America) a debtor compelled to work off his debts
3.
any very poor person
Word Origin
C19: from Spanish peón peasant, from Medieval Latin pedō man who goes on foot, from Latin pēs foot; compare Old French paonpawn²

peon2

/pjuːn; ˈpiːən; ˈpiːɒn/
noun (in India, Sri Lanka, etc, esp formerly)
1.
a messenger or attendant, esp in an office
2.
a native policeman
3.
a foot soldier
Word Origin
C17: from Portuguese peão orderly; see peon1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for peon
n.

unskilled worker, 1826, from Mexican Spanish peon "agricultural laborer" (especially a debtor held in servitude by his creditor), from Spanish peon "day laborer," also "pedestrian," originally "foot soldier," from Medieval Latin pedonem "foot soldier" (see pawn (n.2)). The word entered British English earlier (c.1600) in the sense "native constable, soldier, or messenger in India," via Portuguese peao "pedestrian, foot soldier, day laborer."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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peon in Technology

jargon
A person with no special (root or wheel) privileges on a computer system. "I can't create an account on foovax for you; I'm only a peon there."
[Jargon File]
(2001-12-23)

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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