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[gal-uh-ree, gal-ree] /ˈgæl ə ri, ˈgæl ri/
noun, plural galleries.
a raised area, often having a stepped or sloping floor, in a theater, church, or other public building to accommodate spectators, exhibits, etc.
the uppermost of such areas in a theater, usually containing the cheapest seats.
the occupants of such an area in a theater.
the general public, especially when regarded as having popular or uncultivated tastes.
any group of spectators or observers, as at a golf match, a Congressional session, etc.
a room, series of rooms, or building devoted to the exhibition and often the sale of works of art.
a long covered area, narrow and open at one or both sides, used especially as a walk or corridor.
Chiefly South Atlantic States. a long porch or portico; veranda.
a long, relatively narrow room, especially one for public use.
a corridor, especially one having architectural importance through its scale or decorative treatment.
a raised, balconylike platform or passageway running along the exterior wall of a building inside or outside.
a large room or building used for photography, target practice, or other special purposes:
a shooting gallery.
a collection of art for exhibition.
Theater. a narrow, raised platform located beyond the acting area, used by stagehands or technicians to stand on when working.
Nautical. a projecting balcony or structure on the quarter or stern of a vessel.
Furniture. an ornamental railing or cresting surrounding the top of a table, stand, desk, etc.
Mining. a level or drift.
a small tunnel in a dam, mine, or rock, for various purposes, as inspection or drainage.
a passageway made by an animal.
Fortification Obsolete. an underground or covered passage to another part of a fortified position.
play to the gallery, to attempt to appeal to the popular taste, as opposed to a more refined or esoteric taste:
Movies, though still playing mainly to the gallery, have taken their place as a significant art form.
Origin of gallery
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Old French galerie < Medieval Latin galeria, by dissimilation or suffix replacement from galilea, galilæa galilee
Related forms
galleried, adjective
gallerylike, adjective
ungalleried, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for play to the gallery


noun (pl) -leries
a room or building for exhibiting works of art
a covered passageway open on one side or on both sides See also colonnade (sense 1)
  1. a balcony running along or around the inside wall of a church, hall, etc
  2. a covered balcony, sometimes with columns on the outside
  1. an upper floor that projects from the rear over the main floor and contains the cheapest seats
  2. the seats there
  3. the audience seated there
a long narrow room, esp one used for a specific purpose: a shooting gallery
(mainly US) a building or room where articles are sold at auction
an underground passage, as in a mine, the burrow of an animal, etc
(theatre) a narrow raised platform at the side or along the back of the stage for the use of technicians and stagehands
(in a TV studio) a glass-fronted soundproof room high up to one side of the studio looking into it. One gallery is used by the director and an assistant and one is for lighting, etc
(nautical) a balcony or platform at the quarter or stern of a ship, sometimes used as a gun emplacement
a small ornamental metal or wooden balustrade or railing on a piece of furniture, esp one surrounding the top of a desk, table, etc
any group of spectators, as at a golf match
play to the gallery, to try to gain popular favour, esp by crude appeals
Word Origin
C15: from Old French galerie, from Medieval Latin galeria, probably from galileagalilee, a porch or chapel at entrance to medieval church
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for play to the gallery



c.1500, from Middle French galerie "a long portico" (14c.), from Medieval Latin galeria, of uncertain origin, perhaps an alteration of galilea "church porch," which is probably from Latin Galilaea "Galilee," the northernmost region of Palestine (see Galilee); church porches sometimes were so called from being at the far end of the church.

Super altare Beatæ Mariæ in occidentali porte ejusdem ecclesiæ quæ Galilæ a vocatur. [c.1186 charter in "Durham Cathedral"]
Sense of "building to house art" first recorded 1590s; that of "people who occupy a (theater) gallery" (contrasted with "gentlemen of the pit") first by Lovelace, 1640s, hence to play to the gallery (1867).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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play to the gallery in Culture

play to the gallery definition

To direct a performance toward less sophisticated tastes; by extension, to attempt to gain approval by crude or obvious means: “The cast of the play was a decidedly mixed bag of youthful method actors and old hams who played to the gallery.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for play to the gallery
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with play to the gallery

play to the gallery

Appeal to spectators for maximum approval, as in He peppers his speeches with humor and wisecracks about his opponent, clearly playing to the gallery. In this term gallery refers to the cheapest seats in a British theater and hence the least sophisticated audience. [ Late 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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