• synonyms


  1. a plant or animal that lives on or close to the ground.
  2. any of various fishes that live at the bottom of the water.
  3. a spectator, reader, or other person of unsophisticated or uncultivated tastes; an uncritical or uncultured person.
  4. a member of a theater audience who sits in one of the cheaper seats.
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Origin of groundling

First recorded in 1595–1605; ground1 + -ling1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for groundling

Historical Examples of groundling

  • Pumpkins are among the most imposing of all groundling growths.

    The Girl of the Period and Other Social Essays, Vol. I (of 2)

    Eliza Lynn Linton

  • Nevertheless, the contempt inspired by the groundling served the Englishman in good stead at a critical moment.

    The Great Mogul

    Louis Tracy

  • But the gentleman, now coming up the drive, was not in the proper frame of mind for groundling observation.


    R. D. Blackmore

British Dictionary definitions for groundling


  1. any animal or plant that lives close to the ground or at the bottom of a lake, river, etc
    1. (in Elizabethan theatre) a spectator standing in the yard in front of the stage and paying least
    2. a spectator in the cheapest section of any theatre
  2. a person on the ground as distinguished from one in an aircraft
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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

Word Origin and History for groundling


"theater patron in the pit," c.1600, from ground (n.) in an Elizabethan sense of "pit of a theater" + -ling. From the beginning emblematic of bad or unsophisticated taste. Old English grundling was a type of fish.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper