The pendejo meaning is tricky because it is a Spanish word that often gets used in both Spanish-speaking and English-speaking environments. Pendejo has a storied history that dates back many centuries, and as years and decades have progressed, its meaning has changed.
It all began during the 16th century in Spain, where it has been said that pendejo was first used in reference to young pubescent kids who thought they had fast-forwarded themselves up the evolutionary ladder once they had grown some pubic hair. As time went on, in the
17th-century pendejo had evolved from being used as a way to address a teen’s precocious immaturity to a word that became even more of a mockery. The new general definition of pendejo came from someone who is considered a coward.
Then post-colonization in the 1900s, as Spanish became a common language not just in Spain but also throughout much of the Americas, pendejo didn’t refer to cowards any longer. It had moved on to being an insult for people that were thought to be dumb in various regions of the Americas. With those various iterations of the meaning behind the word pendejo, what does it mean today?
Both Dictionary and Urban Dictionary currently define the term pendejo as an “idiot,” even though the literal translation of the slang word pendejo comes from a Latin root meaning “pubic hair.” This masculine noun pendejo refers to men, while the feminine usage for women is pendeja.
If you live in or travel to Spanish-speaking countries, chances are that you may hear the slang word pendejo get used either in friendly social gatherings or, unfortunately, during a loud argument. Mexico is a country where pendejo is quite a common word. It is also spoken about people of Mexican heritage that live in the United States in places like Texas.
In the South American country of Argentina and several other locations in Latin America, pendejo holds onto its original meaning that it had in Spain during the 16th century, referring to used to a young boy or a young man trying to act like an adult too soon.
Don’t be surprised if you hear pendejo used by American English speakers, even if they aren’t of Latin heritage, due to the popularity of this word.
Being that pendejo is a word of an offensive nature, keep it out of your professional interactions with co-workers, supervisors, management personnel, and clients. Not only should you avoid speaking the term pendejo in business settings, but also avoid typing it in employment emails, newsletters, and meetings.
There are many special occasions and family gatherings where pendejo would definitely not be appropriate, such as when you are attending a wedding, during a religious ceremony, during an older family member’s birthday party, at a graduation, or when you are paying your respects at a funeral. Calling someone the equivalent of an idiot during an emotional gathering would be just plain disrespectful.
Also, it would be wise not to use the word pendejo when you are in a classroom, whether it is high school or university-level learning. The last thing you want to do is put in hard work to get good grades, only to have your teaching instructor judge you based on foul language that is disruptive to the learning environment.
Using the word pendejo to jokingly describe yourself with some self-deprecating humor can show those around you that you are feeling comfortable around them and are open enough to be honest and have fun with them. If you are in a social setting that isn’t working or religion-related, this use of pendejo towards yourself may be a good ice-breaker in a room that feels cold and boring.
Believe it or not but there are some health benefits to using a word considered to be profane (when there isn’t rage involved), including an increased sense of control, a calming effect, and elevated endorphins. We often feel like we are unable to express our frustrations without being negatively judged or offending others. When you are upset, take a moment away from others, maybe in the bathroom, and let out a profanity term like pendejo instead of calling someone that word. The key is to get back to a calm state of mind.
There are many instances when the word pendejo refers to someone as silly, such as other English words like a pinhead, lunkhead, dullard, bubblehead, birdbrain, loon, and dunce. Even reading these words out loud might make you chuckle. That is because there are instances when a word like pendejo can be hilarious when it is said among friends that can take a joke, and that know you aren’t out to hurt their feelings. Remember, if your “jokes” are intended to shame someone and make people laugh at them instead of a laugh with them, back off of using pendejo.