Definition of groundling in English:


Pronunciation /ˈɡroundliNG/ /ˈɡraʊndlɪŋ/


  • 1A spectator or reader of inferior taste, such as a member of a theater audience who traditionally stood in the pit below the stage.

    ‘Dante is not for groundlings’
    • ‘Egeon's trial takes place at the front of the stage, with the old man standing among the groundlings defending himself from threatened execution.’
    • ‘Standing amid the groundlings in front of the stage was a tall, grey, benignly smiling man.’
    • ‘The best part of the experience though was its immediacy: in open air, daylight and with the ‘front row’ of groundlings leaning on the stage, there was an easy exchange between actors and audience.’
    • ‘We are regaled with tales of peregrines hovering over the groundlings at the Globe theatre, peregrines nesting atop the Battersea Power Station.’
    • ‘For one thing, about half the audience at the Globe are groundlings, that is, people standing.’
    • ‘For a man who has tasted success after nearly a decade in the field, earning the appreciation of the movie-goers, especially the groundlings, is an end in itself.’
    • ‘Theatre tickets range from £5 groundlings, to £13 to £25 for seats.’
    • ‘For example, patrons at the Globe Theatre in London - even £5 groundlings - are prohibited from sitting in the aisles.’
    • ‘While the groundlings of the Bard's day had to stand, at Prince's Island you can sprawl out on the grass.’
    • ‘Seated in the theatre's lower gallery, I found myself distracted, not for the first time, by the endless gropings of the groundlings.’
    • ‘Laughs there are aplenty, Sarah Woodward's pantomime depiction of constable Dogberry proving a particular hit with the groundlings.’
    • ‘He disdained the illusion of spontaneity and other tricks to wow groundlings.’
    • ‘The unhappy groundlings rioted; Sedley was fined and briefly imprisoned.’
    • ‘When he lifts Caesar's wound-ridden body and thrusts it toward the groundlings, the impact is electrifying.’
    • ‘Exorbitantly priced restaurants, for one week, set up a special menu for us swarthy groundlings.’
    • ‘‘Maybe to look at their groundlings below and laugh,’ the woman exclaimed with a sneer.’
    • ‘You cared about Oedipus and Hamlet because they were noble and you were a groundling.’
    • ‘The groundlings, to be sure, have a ball, and might like a better production much less.’
    • ‘The ecstatic crowds are groundlings, mere extras, reacting on cue.’
    • ‘The Tempest may be in typically oblique Shakespearian fashion a salute to the groundlings.’
  • 2A person on the ground as opposed to one in a spacecraft or aircraft.

  • 3A fish that lives at the bottom of lakes and streams, especially a gudgeon or loach.

  • 4A creeping or dwarf plant.


Early 17th century (denoting a fish): from ground+ -ling; compare with Dutch grondeling, German Gründling ‘gudgeon’.