noun ground·ling \ˈgrau̇n(d)-liŋ\

Definition of groundling

  1. 1a :  a spectator who stood in the pit of an Elizabethan theaterb :  a person of unsophisticated taste

  2. 2 :  one that lives or works on or near the ground

groundling was our Word of the Day on 12/20/2009. Hear the podcast!

Did You Know?

In Elizabethan times, play-going audiences were a diverse bunch. In the upper gallery, the wealthier patrons fanned themselves and looked with disdain at those who could only afford the penny admission to the pit below. Pit spectators had to sit or stand in close proximity on the bare floor, exposed to the sweltering sun or the dampening rain. At times, they behaved less than decorously, and they reportedly emitted a less than pleasant odor. The pit was also called the ground; those in it were groundlings. Today, we use groundlings to refer not only to the less than couth among us, but also (often with some facetiousness) to ordinary Janes or Joes.


First Known Use of groundling


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up groundling? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a rounded knoll or a ridge of ice

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