Pendejo is a mildly vulgar slang in Spanish, and its main meaning is “idiot” or “stupid”. It is a staple of Spanish-language insults, though it is a less offensive term.
But it can also have a friendly tone to it as well, depending only on the context.
“Pendejo” is the singular masculine form of the word, and its feminine equivalent is “pendeja”. The word “pendejo” has a Latin origin and its literal meaning is “pubic hair.”
It is particularly common in Mexico and among people with Mexican heritage in the United States.
Since “pendejo” means “pubic hair,” the word was used for the first time in the 16th century in Spain to describe preadolescent teenagers who believed they were already adults.
It was only in the mid-17th century that the term came to mean “coward” and was used as an insult.
By the early 1900s, “pendejo” had changed from “coward” to refer to someone dumb or stupid.
Spread and Usage
The term is used throughout any Spanish-speaking country, and it is especially popular in Mexico.
However, after many conquests and colonizations, Spanish became a common language in different parts of the United States.
In areas with large numbers of Spanish-speakers, such as the American Southwest, it is not uncommon to hear the word “pendejo” used in an English-language conversation.
In a few places, like Argentina or Latin America, “pendejo” is used to refer to a young man who tries to act older than he actually is.
- Dictionary.com – Pendejo