Origin of peanut gallery
Words nearby peanut gallery
ABOUT THIS WORD
More context on peanut gallery
First evidenced in the late 1800s, peanut gallery, as we explain in our definition above, is “the rearmost and cheapest section of seats in the balcony or the uppermost balcony of a theater.”
Apparently, the term takes its name from the people who sat there and ate peanuts. These people, who were often poor or Black, became stereotyped as rowdy—and this history gives the problematic peanut gallery classist and racist undertones.
Beginning in the 1800s, peanut gallery started to spread as a slang term for a “source of insignificant criticism” by association with the behaviors of the stereotypical occupants of the peanut gallery.
If knowing the history of peanut gallery has got you reflecting on your word choices, this slideshow, “These Common Words Have Offensive Histories,” discusses many other words whose place in your vocab you may want to reconsider.
Keep in mind …
There isn’t an exact synonym for peanut gallery, but heckler, smart-aleck, know-it-all, and hairsplitter get close. Consider some more options in nitpicker and its synonyms over at Thesaurus.com.
Add two-bit or small-time before any of these words for some extra oomph. As for the actual location, cheap seats and nosebleeds are possible alternatives if you need them.
How to use peanut gallery in a sentence
The media and peanut gallery missed that class and immediately cast them as “others.”How The Media Chose Its Boston 'Suspects'|Maysoon Zayid|April 22, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Simpson and Bowles are just playing to that peanut gallery, for which a Politico breakfast is the perfect audience.Simpson-Bowles Rebaked|Michael Tomasky|February 19, 2013|DAILY BEAST
On those occasions they had sat far up in the peanut gallery in the place reserved for people of colour.The Sport of the Gods|Paul Laurence Dunbar
This must have been the unanimous intention of the Perry populace, for the peanut gallery was a bower of fashion.The Woman Who Toils|Mrs. John Van Vorst and Marie Van Vorst
Up in the peanut gallery the gods began to indulge in catcalls and make personal inquiries.Through the Yukon Gold Diggings|Josiah Edward Spurr
A few minutes before he had been sitting up there in the "peanut gallery" of the Teatro Real.Their Son; The Necklace|Eduardo Zamacois