The word pendejo in the Dictionary is a common slang that in English would be similar to calling someone an idiot or a dummy. But when you are looking into what the literal translation is for pendejo, it turns out that it is pubic hair, which is obviously quite different. Pendejo is a masculine noun that refers to men, and the female version is pendeja. There was even a point in time when pendejo meant “coward,” and in some countries, that is still the case.
As you can already see, the word pendejo is an offensive term and can be viewed in a very sensitive nature depending on who is saying it, how it is being used, where it was said, and the person that is being called a pendejo. To answer the question of when someone should use the word pendejo, we have to dig deeper into various contexts when it could be bad or good.
Where Pendejo is Heard
Pendejo is commonly used in countries where Spanish happens to be the first language, such as Mexico and Argentina. You also hear pendejo used frequently in the American Southwest because it tends to have large Spanish-speaking populations. While the pendejo meaning is mostly understood by Spanish speakers when they are talking about the stupidity of someone, that doesn’t mean that the word doesn’t get thrown around by English-speaking people in America.
The key thing to remember here is that the word pendejo is an insult that is the equivalent of calling someone a dunce or a stupid person. When the word is taken at face value without any context involved, it could be assumed that you are trying to make fun of the recipient and that you are being disrespectful to them. In Argentina, for instance, pendejo is still often thought of to hold its original meaning from 16th-century Spain, back when it was meant as a way to make fun of a teen who thinks they are a man because they have pubic hair now.
Imagine if you were in Argentina and called a cab driver a pendejo, and you started laughing, assuming he would think that you were joking. First of all, he would probably feel insulted because he doesn’t know you, and you are taking liberties with your customer/driver dynamic. Second of all, you might be thinking that it means dumb to him, and he might think you are calling him immature. Either way, you look at it, whether you meant it to mean dumb or immature, it isn’t going to go over well because he isn’t your friend and doesn’t know you are joking.
When to Use Pendejo
There are more times to avoid using the word pendejo than there are to use it. But here is a checklist of the best times to consider using pendejo:
- When there are no children around.
- During a casual night hanging out with close friends.
- As a private joke with your spouse.
- In response to an athlete’s mistake on television.
When Not to Use Pendejo
Using pendejo as profanity can quickly backfire on you because you may think that you are using it to point out someone else’s incompetence, but making the mistake of calling someone a pendejo at work could actually make you look like the stupid one. No one likes to be insulted, especially when there is an audience of co-workers that they have to see every day. This could lead to a physical confrontation or you getting fired from your job altogether.
Just like any form of profanity at the workplace, calling someone a pendejo at your place of employment could not only make you look bad, but your entire organization could feel the negative feedback from it. For example, if you are working at a local grocery store and you get frustrated with a customer and call them a pendejo. If they go on social media and share that embarrassing experience, your store may get highly criticized and could cause a lot of people to stop shopping there.
Not only can calling someone a pendejo at work lead your co-workers to look at you in a negative light, but if you are in a position of leadership, you may lose the respect and cooperation of your staff.
When it is all said and done, using the slang term pendejo should be excluded from professional environment, particularly any that involve your place of employment or any business deals that you are directly involved in. Remember, you should never use the slang term pendejo in professional business emails, employment meetings, or any religious ceremonies. You would run the risk of offending people that are important to your life running smoothly.
People may get away with using the word pendejo with their dearest and closest when it is being used to make each other laugh. If you are not taking yourself too seriously and are prone to self-deprecating humor, your friends may already know that not only can you joke about others, but you are able to take a joke too.
Also, before you ever call someone a pendejo, even if it is meant to make them laugh, be sure that you put yourself in their perspective and ask yourself, “Would this embarrass me if someone called me pendejo at this moment?”