grass·​roots | \ˈgras-ˌrüts, -ˌru̇ts\
variants: or less commonly grassroot \ ˈgras-​ˌrüt , -​ˌru̇t \

Definition of grassroots 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : basic, fundamental the grassroots factor in deciding to buy a house

2 : being, originating, or operating in or at the grass roots a grassroots organization grassroots political support

3 : not adapted from or added to an existing facility or operation : totally new a grassroots refinery

Definition of grass roots (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the very foundation or source You must attack the problem at the grass roots.

2 : the basic level of society or of an organization especially as viewed in relation to higher or more centralized positions of power was losing touch with the party's grass roots

Examples of grassroots in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Founded in 2016, the NDRC is a not-for-profit 527 organization that combats gerrymandering through legal action, grassroots mobilization and elections, according to the group's website. Kristine Guillaume, CBS News, "Obama stars in promo for Eric Holder's anti-gerrymandering group," 11 July 2018 This grassroots energy flows in part from the fact that, in addition to traditionally being a local issue, housing was barely a factor in the 2016 election. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Rent control and tenants’ rights set to be larger political issues in 2018 elections," 11 July 2018 It’s hard to see how Joe Ganim’s fundraising shows he’s running a grassroots statewide campaign. Neil Vigdor,, "Joe Ganim Approaches $800K Fundraising Mark In Governor's Race," 9 July 2018 Likewise, inviting the FDP, with its hard line on immigration, could be hard to swallow for the SPD, which faces grassroots pressure to move more to the left. Bertrand Benoit, WSJ, "Germany Faces Unprecedented Path in Fight Over Migration Deal," 2 July 2018 The Swiss government opposed on Wednesday a grassroots campaign for a nationwide ban on facial coverings in public that will prompt a binding referendum, the latest twist in a Europe-wide crackdown on burqas championed by anti-Muslim activists. Michael Shields, The Christian Science Monitor, "Swiss government's rejection of burqa ban prompts binding referendum," 27 June 2018 Ocasio-Cortez ran a grassroots campaign without corporate donors. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "Everything You Need to Know About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Millennial Who Beat Top Democrat Joe Crowley," 27 June 2018 That meant setting aside what many on the left perceive as an outsize reliance on data and creating a grassroots campaign that clearly connected public policy with a community's more intimate struggles. Gregory Krieg, CNN, "Democratic Socialist women score big wins in Pennsylvania," 16 May 2018 Teachers, who organized a grassroots campaign on social media, are demanding a 20 percent raise and restoration of school funding to 2008 levels, before the Great Recession struck, according to the Arizona Republic. Moriah Balingit, Washington Post, "Arizona teachers, among the nation’s lowest paid, threaten to strike," 29 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction

Grass leaves grow much more slowly as the weather turns cool, but the grass roots and rhizomes continue to grow quickly. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "6 Tips to Get Your Lawn Ready for Fall," 24 Aug. 2018 Even the larvae feed on organic matter and grass roots, potentially causing a great deal of damage to your lawn. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "How to Defend Your Garden Against Japanese Beetles," 18 June 2018 Barrett is a favorite of the grass roots and would do the most to fire up the base. Jan Crawford, CBS News, "Sen. Susan Collins says she won't support Supreme Court pick with "hostility" to Roe v. Wade," 2 July 2018 What’s going on at the Democratic grass roots is arguably the undercovered story that may tell us more about what happens (or not) on Election Day 2018. Frank Rich, Daily Intelligencer, "Rot on the Right, Green Shoots on the Left," 28 June 2018 He is considered the shining star of a grass roots movement called 5 star that has shaken up the Italian political landscape. Houston Chronicle, "Does the Democratic Party have the talent, money to carry the day?," 22 June 2018 He is considered the shining star of a grass roots movement called 5 star that has shaken up the Italian political landscape. Houston Chronicle, "Does the Democratic Party have the talent, money to carry the day?," 22 June 2018 Having covered the sport on a daily basis, and now on a semi basis, the problem is the problem, and no amount of marketing or gimmick can change it: The sport is simply too expensive to grow on a grass roots level to enjoy large gains. Mac Engel, star-telegram, "NHL has a major event coming to town and you don't even know it," 21 June 2018 Still, there is annoyance with the praise among the Democratic grass roots. Joshua Miller,, "Praise from Democrats is making Baker harder to hit," 7 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grassroots.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of grassroots


1907, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction

1901, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for grassroots


see grass entry 1

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Last Updated

24 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for grassroots

The first known use of grassroots was in 1901

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More Definitions for grassroots

grass roots


English Language Learners Definition of grass roots

: the ordinary people in a society or organization : the people who do not have a lot of money and power

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playful or foolish behavior

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