Share this entry

groundling Line breaks: ground|ling
Pronunciation: /ˈɡraʊn(d)lɪŋ/

Definition of groundling in English:


1An unsophisticated or uncritical spectator or reader (originally a member of the part of a theatre audience that stood in the pit below the stage): Dante is not for groundlings
[With reference to Shakespeare's Hamlet iii. ii. 11]
More example sentences
  • 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.
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.


Early 17th century (denoting a fish): from ground1 + -ling; compare with Dutch grondeling, German Gründling 'gudgeon'.

Words that rhyme with groundling


Definition of groundling in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day innocuous
Pronunciation: iˈnäkyo͞oəs
not harmful or offensive