Pendejo – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Did someone call you a 'pendejo' after you made a mistake? Are they insulting you? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this Spanish expression.


The expression 'pendejo' is a derogatory slur in Spanish towards people with inferior intellect. The direct translation of the word to English is 'moron,' 'stupid,' or 'idiot.' It's a common Spanish insult to people who do stupid things or act without thinking.

'Pendejo' is not a vulgar term or an offensive insult. It's meant to draw a person's attention to their actions and to proceed with better care. In some cases, 'pendejo' can mean a term of endearment between friends.

In some cases, 'pandejo' can refer to a kid acting too old for their age or faking their age to appear older.

'Pendejo' is the masculine form, and 'pendeja' is the feminine version of the insult. The word 'pendejo' originates from Latin, translating to 'pubic hair.' It's a common insult in Mexico and Mexican communities in the southwestern United States.

Example Usage

“Oh no, pendejo. What have you done this time? I can’t take you anywhere without you causing problems. You’re totally useless to me, do you know that?”

These pendejos don’t know what they’re doing. They’ve been working on this for over an hour and are no further with it than when they started.”

“Look, pendejo. I know it's hard for your simple brain to understand this. But, remember to turn the stove off next time after you finish cooking.”

“Hey, pendejo, what are you up to over there? Don’t touch the electric fence, or it will shock you.”


The expression ‘pendejo’ originates from the Spanish language. The word supposedly translates to ‘pubic hair’ and was used in 16th century Spain to describe preadolescent teenagers displaying adult behavior.

In the mid-17th century, the meaning of the term changed to ‘coward,’ with Spanish people using it as an insult to people afraid to show bravery in demanding situations. By the 1900s, the word “pendejo” changed its meaning again, shifting from referring to a ‘coward’ to meaning ‘stupid’ or idiot.’

The term is popular in Mexico but is widespread in all central and southern Latin-American countries. The phrase is also commonly used in communities in the southwestern United States.

In some South American counties, such as Argentina, ‘pendejo’ means a young man attempting to act older than his age.

Phrases Similar to Pendejo

  • Bendejo.

Phrases Opposite to Pendejo

  • N/A.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Pendejo.

Ways People May Say Pendejo Incorrectly

Some people may spell ‘pendejo’ as ‘bendejo.’ However, it's not the correct spelling of the word. Strangely enough, more people tend to use incorrect spelling online than the correct version. However, 'pendejo' is this Spanish word's original and proper version.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Pendejo

You can use the phrase 'pendejo' when you want to call someone an idiot or say they're stupid. It's a derogatory Spanish remark made to someone when they do something blatantly incorrect, thoughtless, or careless. It's a way of referring to someone as incompetent or useless.

You can use this word regardless if you have Spanish descent or heritage, and you don't have to know Spanish to understand its meaning. Pendejo is a relatively well-known expression in English-speaking communities in the southeastern United States. The word suits use in social situations and in verbal or text communications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *