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1. Literally, the section of seats in a theater that were the furthest away from the stage, and thus the least expensive. I don't see the point in going to the play if we're going to be stuck in the peanut gallery—we won't even be able to see anything way back there!
2. The people whose opinions or criticisms are considered unimportant, insignificant, or insincere. The president was overheard by several reporters saying that he didn't give a damn about what the peanut gallery of the country thought about his tax bill. A: "Yeah, but tonight we have to eat mom's cooking—that's punishment enough!" B: "Excuse me! No smart-aleck remarks from the peanut gallery, thank you very much!"
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
A rowdy audience. The original peanut galleries were the cheapest, which is to say, the highest, seats in a theater or vaudeville house. Their patrons heckled and often threw peanuts (the least expensive items sold at the snack bar) at performers who didn't measure up to the audience's expectations. The most popular children's television show of the mid-20th century was Howdy Doody (Howdy, Mr. Bluster, Flub-A-Dub and other marionettes interacted with their human friends led by Buffalo Bob Smith and Clarabelle the Clown). The studio audience were children who sat in the Peanut Gallery and were encouraged to laugh, cheer, or boo at the show's riotous happenings.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price