grass·​roots | \ ˈgras-ˌrüts How to pronounce grassroots (audio) , -ˌru̇ts\
variants: or less commonly grassroot \ ˈgras-​ˌrüt How to pronounce grassroot (audio) , -​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

About 100 people had gathered for the training, including a dozen or so members of the grassroots group Bessrochka, which emerged last year. Washington Post, "Russian protesters aided by digital tools, self-organizing," 6 Sep. 2019 Flippable, a grassroots Democratic group focused on winning statehouse races, has already funneled $125,000 into Virginia and is eyeing eight other states in 2020. Philip Elliott, Time, "How State Races Starting This Fall Will Shape Congress for the Next Decade," 5 Sep. 2019 The territory transfer effort began Nov. 23, 2015, when a trio from the grassroots group UniteLCF!, including Tom Smith and Nalini Lasiewicz, submitted a petition to Los Angeles County. Andrew J. Campa, La Cañada Valley Sun, "Sagebrush territory transfer petition to be voted on in October," 4 Sep. 2019 The Giants have partnered with LEAD Filipino, a grassroots group founded in 2015 by Angelica Cortez that works to provide greater Filipino representation in civic leadership, and other South Bay Filipino groups on the event. Sal Pizarro, The Mercury News, "San Jose Public Library tries to score with new 49ers card," 28 Aug. 2019 But a loophole that will allow small grassroots groups and local politicians to run political ads could also continue to allow bad actors to take advantage of the process. Barbara Ortutay, Fortune, "Facebook Tightens Political Ad Rules—But There Are Loopholes," 28 Aug. 2019 Her candidacy is supported by Justice Democrats, a grassroots progressive group that made headlines for supporting New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s insurgent (and successful) campaign to unseat longtime incumbent Joe Crowley. Caitlin Cruz, Teen Vogue, "Why This Texas Democrat Is Running for Congress Against Her Former Boss," 20 Aug. 2019 The tragedies in Newtown and Parkland spawned two of the most powerful grassroots groups. Joe Garofoli,, "Mass shootings give gun control cause new strength — for now," 6 Aug. 2019 The Drug Policy Alliance, a grassroots pro-legalization group, hired Kivvit, an influential lobbying and public relations firm, for $17,500 for the month of June. Vivian Wang,, "Marijuana legalization isn’t dead yet in New York," 18 June 2019

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

That alone has made some of them targets, with a grass roots campaign of party members seeking to punish lawmakers not supportive of a no-deal Brexit. Benjamin Mueller, New York Times, "Britain’s Conservatives Erupt Into Civil War as Unlikely Rebels Defy Boris Johnson," 3 Sep. 2019 Simmons’ hiring by HartBeat ends a lengthy transitional period for the esteemed grass roots company. Christopher Arnott,, "Hartbeat Ensemble names new artistic director," 19 Aug. 2019 Human rights groups said the arrests were meant to send a message: Reforms would come from the top, not from the grass roots. Claire Parker, Washington Post, "A jailed Saudi activist was told she would be released if she denied being tortured, her family says. She refused.," 14 Aug. 2019 Romer says large companies are more successful at the state level where legislators are less often confronted by grass roots city activists. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "See the complicated landscape of plastic bans in the U.S.," 15 Aug. 2019 And despite recent disappointing polls, Mr. Sanders is well-established as a grass roots force, continuing to command respect among plenty of progressive Democrats — but certainly not all — because of his 2016 campaign’s success. Lisa Lerer, New York Times, "Can Anyone Catch Joe Biden?," 9 Aug. 2019 Grass leaves grow much more slowly as the weather cools, but the grass roots and rhizomes continue to grow strong. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "9 Biggest Lawn Care Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)," 8 July 2019 The entire Conservative grass roots has grown increasingly exasperated by the government’s failure to deliver Brexit and become even more hard-line of late, but new members have helped push the party right. Benjamin Mueller, New York Times, "New Members Flood U.K.’s Conservatives, Yanking the Party Right," 19 July 2019 Adult beetles chew on landscape plants while their larvae (white grubs) feed primarily on grass roots. Betty Cahill, The Denver Post, "How to get bad insects out of your garden, from Japanese beetles to spider mites," 24 June 2019

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


1912, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction

1899, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for grassroots


see grass entry 1

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Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for grassroots

The first known use of grassroots was in 1899

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on grassroots

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with grassroots

Spanish Central: Translation of grassroots

Nglish: Translation of grassroots for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of grassroots for Arabic Speakers

Comments on grassroots

What made you want to look up grassroots? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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