If you are unfamiliar with a particular word, its meaning, and its origins, you may also be wondering if it is appropriate to use in a business space. While every workplace has a unique culture, atmosphere, environment, and even ethos, it is also the case that some words are simply not considered appropriate in a professional space. The reason for this is that some language can actually impact how people (whether employees, employers, customers, or clients) operate and behave in those spaces, and it can also disrupt an efficient and harmonious working environment.
This shift in environment and behavior can include changing how well people work as part of a team or group; altering the extent to which people in an environment have positive attitudes toward one another, the workplace, or the tasks required; shifting one’s appearance from one that is clean and suitable for the job that is required; the degree to which people have respect for others and their differences; the extent to which people are on time for work; and the nature of their behavior, insofar as whether they are polite to their coworkers and clientele they are dealing with.
One such work that could put you in a precarious employment position is the Spanish word “pendejo.” According to Dictionary.com, the meaning of pendejo is equal to calling another an idiot or an asshole. Historically, pendejo is a Spanish slang term that literally translates to pubic hair. It is also a masculine noun that is typically used to refer to a man.
If, however, you wanted to refer to a woman by using a similar word, there is a feminine equivalent: pendeja. Whether it is directed to men or women, this term is considered very offensive and should not be used in a professional or formal setting, nor should it be used in formal business emails, meetings, or other less casual contexts.
Instead, the word can be used in an informal and casual setting – particularly with friends – to joke around with those who you know well and have a playful and good rapport with. In these contexts, before using this word, make sure that the recipient of the insult knows that it is in gest and intended to only be playful.
The History of Pendejo
According to historians, the word pendejo is as an insult in the Spanish language – that is, while it can be and often is looked at as a problematic word, it is a milder word than the phrase “hijo de puta,” which translates in English to the phrase “son of a bitch.” The term itself is often used in the singular and is a masculine noun.
On the other side, there is a feminine opposite: namely, the term “pendeja.” Historically, the term’s Latin root is that it means “pubic hair.” By the 16th century, the term “pendejo” in Spain began to be used to refer to pubescent teens who thought they were adults (given that they had pubic hair). In the century that followed, the use and meaning of the word began to shift, and it was increasingly used as a mocking or taboo reference to refer to those who were cowards.
In the aftermath of conquest and colonization, the term extended beyond the geographical space of Spain and was transplanted and used in much of the Americas. In that new geography, the word “pendejo” evolved and was now used to insult someone by calling them dumb or stupid.
Who Typically Says Pendejo
While the term “pendejo” was initially used in Spain, as it evolved, it was primarily used in the Americas, especially in places such as Mexico and among those of Mexican heritage living in the United States.
As in the case of areas such as the American Southwest, where there are large numbers of Spanish speakers, it is not uncommon to hear people use the word pendejo in Spanish as well as in English-language conversation.
Whether in English or in Spanish, the term “pendejo” in the present day is generally used as an insult to refer to someone who is understood as a “jerk.” That said, it can also be used in a playful way – though this does depend on the context. An example of this might be if, among two friends, someone says: “Listen, pendejo, and I’ll tell you.”
Why and Where Not to Use Pendejo
While the term “pendejo” can be used in casual and friendly banter, frequently using pendejo as profanity is not a good idea – especially in professional situations and environments. The reason for this is that it could lead to being disciplined at best or termination at worst – especially in instances where an employer has zero tolerance for vulgarity of this sort.
Outside of places of employment, another reason for refraining from using the term “pendejo” is because it can have a negative impact on your relationships – whether they are professional or personal in nature.