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From peon +‎ -age.



peonage (plural peonages)

  1. The state of being a peon; the system of paying back debt through servitude and labour; loosely, any system of involuntary servitude.
    • 2010, Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22, Atlantic 2011, p. 217:
      But there was work to be done down in the Salinas Valley where César Chávez was organizing the grape pickers and lettuce workers out of their state of un-unionized peonage.
    • 2014, Michael Nava, The City of Palaces, Terrace Books 2014, p. 191:
      "It wasn't just the crowds," Luis said softly. "I saw with my own eyes that Díaz's México is a Potemkin village, Miguel. The México profundo where the poor are so hungry they eat grass and bark. I met Indians whose land is being devoured by Díaz's cronies, entire towns swallowed up, and the people reduced to peonage. I talked to Mexican railroad workers who are paid a fraction of what the American owners pay their own countrymen for the same work."

Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • peonage” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.