This is the full read-only archive of the "Ask the Wordwizard" section of the original Wordwizard site. The responses to the questions originate from Jonathon Green, the compiler of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and numerous other dictionaries.
I've often wondered where the expression "to grass on someone" came from...
It is used quite often in northern Britain.
It's meaning is 'to alert the authorities as to some wrong doing', but the origin of the expression to my mind remains unclear.
Submitted by Lynne LeGrow (Dartmouth - Canada)
Signature: Topic imported and archived
Grass is rhyming slang: It is an abbrev., as is so much rhyming slang, in this case of 'grasshopper' = 'shopper'; to 'shop' means to betray or inform on.
Signature: Jonathon Green