[ ground-ling ]
/ ˈgraʊnd lɪŋ /


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

Nearby words

  1. groundhog day,
  2. grounding,
  3. groundkeeper,
  4. groundless,
  5. groundlessly,
  6. groundmass,
  7. groundnut,
  8. groundnut oil,
  9. groundout,
  10. groundplot

Origin of groundling

First recorded in 1595–1605; ground1 + -ling1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for groundling

British Dictionary definitions for groundling


/ (ˈɡraʊndlɪŋ) /


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
a person on the ground as distinguished from one in an aircraft
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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper