peanut gallerypeanut gallery
- The hindmost or uppermost section of seating in a theater balcony, where the seats are cheapest.
- A group of people whose opinions are considered unimportant: “Pressure is building … to force … Alan Greenspan to cut interest rates and pump up the money supply. [He] has politely ignored these catcalls from the peanut gallery” ( H. Erich Heinemann )
(plural peanut galleries)
- (historical) The upper balcony in racially segregated venues such as a theatre to which black patrons were restricted.
- (idiomatic) Any source of heckling, unwelcome commentary or criticism, especially from a know-it-all or of an inexpert nature.
- Enough already from the peanut gallery; if you think you can do a better job, go right ahead.
The historically prior sense of “an upper balcony for black patrons" probably derives from an early association between peanuts and the African slaves who first introduced them to America; the extended sense of “a source of heckling" most probably derives from the disesteem in which those balconies and their occupants were generally held.