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[gras-roots, -roo ts, grahs-] /ˈgræsˌruts, -ˌrʊts, ˈgrɑs-/
noun, (used with a singular or plural verb). Also, grass roots
the common or ordinary people, especially as contrasted with the leadership or elite of a political party, social organization, etc.; the rank and file.
the agricultural and rural areas of a country.
the people inhabiting these areas, especially as a political, social, or economic group.
the origin or basis of something; the basic or primary concept, rule, part, or the like.
adjective, Also, grass-roots
of, relating to, or involving the common people, especially as contrasted with or separable from an elite:
a grassroots movement for nuclear disarmament.
Origin of grassroots
1910-15 Americanism for def 1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for grass roots
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The depth to which grass roots will go in sandy soil: at least two feet.

    At Plattsburg

    Allen French
  • Among the grass roots, where the snow was light, it was easy burrowing.

    Red Fox Charles G. D. Roberts
  • Does it branch into many fibres, as grass roots or corn roots do?

  • We ate rose-leaves, also, and grass roots, and smarting peppergrass.

    Child Life in Colonial Days Alice Morse Earle
  • The houses of the marsh-dwellers are composed of grass and flags, grass roots, mud, etc.

    Fur Farming A. R. Harding
  • They followed the runaway brook, through the grass roots, that almost hid it.

  • The spring sod, half rotted and loosened from the grass roots, furnished the best lodgment.

    The Wind Before the Dawn Dell H. Munger
  • Even then he pays for the trouble by destroying the grubs in the grass roots, grubs that in their turn would destroy the grass.

British Dictionary definitions for grass roots

grass roots

plural noun
  1. the ordinary people as distinct from the active leadership of a party or organization: used esp of the rank-and-file members of a political party, or of the voters themselves
  2. (as modifier): the newly elected MP expressed a wish for greater contact with people at grass-roots level
the origin or essentials
Word Origin
C20: sense 1 originally US, with reference to rural areas in contrast to the towns
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for grass roots

1766, literally; figurative use from 1901 in sense "fundamental level;" U.S. political sense of "the rank and file of the electorate" is attested from 1912; also grassroots.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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