Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A plant or an animal that lives on or close to the ground.
  • n. A bottom fish.
  • n. A person with uncultivated tastes.
  • n. A spectator in the cheap standing-room section of an Elizabethan theater.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. any of various plants or animals living on or near the ground, as a benthic fish or bottom feeder
  • n. by association, an individual of uncultivated or uncultured taste
  • n. in Elizabethan theater: an audience member (usually standing) in the cheap section

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A fish that keeps at the bottom of the water, as the loach.
  • n. A spectator in the pit of a theater, which formerly was on the ground, and without floor or benches.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. That which lives upon the ground; a terrestrial animal.—2. A fish which habitually remains at the bottom of the water.
  • n. The ring-plover, Ægialites hiaticula.
  • n. Formerly, a spectator who stood in the pit of a theater, which was literally on the ground, having neither floor nor benches.
  • n. Hence, allusively, one of the common herd; in the plural, the vulgar.
  • Of a base or groveling nature.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. in Elizabethan theater: a playgoer in the cheap standing section

Etymologies

From ground +‎ -ling. Compare Old English grundling ("a groundling fish, grundel"). (Wiktionary)

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