Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A bottom fish.
  • noun A spectator in the cheap standing-room section of an Elizabethan theater.
  • noun A person with uncultivated tastes.

from The Century Dictionary.

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • noun in Elizabethan theater: a playgoer in the cheap standing section

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

Examples

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