The Etymology of Grass

While trudging through my steps today, listening to A Way With Words and a caller asked about the etymology of “grassing” in the British sense of informing on someone else. One of those fascinating bits of slang that derives indirectly from a rhyme (something the Brits seem particularly fond of) in this sequence:

  1. To inform on someone was to “shop” them out.
  2. To shop is to be a “shopper.”
  3. The slang rhyme becomes “grasshopper”
  4. Thus we have to “grass” someone out.

Though, in my “research” (aka quick Googling) there is a competing—or possibly collaborative—theory about the rhyme that “grasshopper” arose because of the rhyme with “copper” (who one would grass to).

I love that kind of thing.

Also, if you don’t listen to A Way With Words, you should. That is all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *