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Posted by Word Camel on November 24, 2002

In Reply to: Grass posted by ESC on November 24, 2002

: : I came across this term today in an article I was reading from a British news paper.

: : "This gave busybodies, voyeurs and the downright nasty ample opportunity to grass up their neighbours for no other reason than that they felt like it."

: : I know the term from my time in the UK, but I wondered if anyone has any insight where it comes from. It seems to be a British term since this definition doesn't appear in American dictionaries I've looked in. Why "grass"?

: : Curiously,

: : Camel

: GRASS - to squeal or inform. "This word is derived from Cockney rhyming slang 'grasshopper,' meaning 'copper,' i.e., 'policeman.' 'Grass' sometimes appears as a noun, meaning both 'informer' or 'stool pigeon' and the 'act of informing' itself. It has shown up in the new form 'supergrass,' describing an I.R.A. member who turns 'queen's evidence' and names his former comrades." From "British English from A to Zed" by Norman Schur (FirstHarperPerennial edition, 1991).

Thanks! I suspected there might be rhyming slang involved.

See also: The meaning and origin of 'grass up'.