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


  1. 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
  2. a person on the ground as distinguished from one in an aircraft

“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.

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