WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2017
grass roots /ˈgræs ˈruts/USA pronunciation   n.  [plural;  used with a plural verb but sometimes used with a singular verb]
  1. Governmentordinary citizens, esp. as contrasted with a leadership or elite.

adj. [grass-roots;  before a noun]
  1. Governmentof, from, or aimed at the grass roots:grass-roots support.

WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017
grass roots, (used with a sing. or pl. v.)
  1. Governmentthe common or ordinary people, esp. as contrasted with the leadership or elite of a political party, social organization, etc.;
    the rank and file.
  2. Governmentthe agricultural and rural areas of a country.
  3. Governmentthe people inhabiting these areas, esp. as a political, social, or economic group.
  4. the origin or basis of something;
    the basic or primary concept, rule, part, or the like.
  • 1910–15 American. for def. 1

grass-roots  (grasro̅o̅ts′, -rŏŏts′, gräs-),USA pronunciation adj. 
  1. Governmentof, pertaining to, or involving the common people, esp. as contrasted with or separable from an elite:a grass-roots movement for nuclear disarmament.
  • 1910–15

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

grass roots pl n
  1. the ordinary people as distinct from the active leadership of a party or organization: used esp of the rank-and-file members of a political party, or of the voters themselves
  2. the origin or essentials
Etymology: 20th Century: sense 1 originally US, with reference to rural areas in contrast to the towns

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