General English

General Science

  • noun a monocotyledonous plant in the Poaceae family. There are many genera.


  • noun a flowering monocotyledon of which there are a great many genera, including wheat, barley, rice, oats. Grasses are an important food for herbivores and humans.


  • verb to drop a catch
    Citation ‘His only chance came at 34 when a stinging cut against Gilmour was grassed by Hill in the gully’ (Richard Streeton, The Times 29 October 1982)
    Citation ‘So far he has hit 14 fours and offered a chance only when, on 16, he edged Harmison low to Flintoff, at second slip this time, the fielder grassing the chance’ (Mike Selvey, Guardian 1 December 2006)


  • A form of radar clutter produced by background electrical noise. It may be manifested on a display screen, for instance, as a pattern resembling grass. Also, any similar interference appearing on any CRT screen. Also called hash (2).


  • noun a criminal who gives information to the police about other criminals.


  • noun herbal cannabis, marihuana. British smokers traditionally preferred hashish, but began to import more marihuana in the mid-1960s. Grass was the predominant American term and had largely supplanted bush, pot, herb, etc. in British speech by 1970.
  • noun an informer. Originally the expression was ‘grasshopper’ as rhyming slang for copper; the meaning was then transferred to the ‘copper’s nark’ or informer and by the 1940s grass had become established in the underworld lexicon. By the 1970s the word was also widespread among schoolchildren and others. ‘Supergrass’ was a journalese elaboration denoting a highly significant informer.

Origin & History of “grass”

Reflecting its status as the commonest and most obvious of plants (and, for agricultural communities, the most important), grass etymologically simply means ‘that which grows’. It comes from *grō-, *gra-, the prehistoric Germanic base which also produced grow (and green). this gave the noun *grasam, from which German and Dutch get gras, Swedish gräs, and English grass.