WHO SAID IT: A QUIZ ON PRESIDENTIAL WIT AND WISDOM
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.