Derivation of 'Grass Up'?

Nov 17th, 2004, 01:56 PM
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Derivation of 'Grass Up'?

As an avid viewer of Britain's Coronation Street soap i've heard to term 'grass up,' used when someone squeals on someone else to the police. But i can't imagine how this term got to meet that. They also say 'sent down' like Rita was yesterday and i understand, maybe incorrectly, that this comes from Old Bailey where convicted folks are sent down below the court to be taken away? Anyone shed any light on these two terms?
PalQ is offline  
Nov 17th, 2004, 02:06 PM
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Sent down is indeed from being literally sent down from the dock to waiting guards to whisk you away to prison.

As for grass up, I've no idea where it's from. All I can think of is perhaps wind blowing threw the grass making noises which could be interpreted as whispers etcetera, however, this is probably quite incorrect!
m_kingdom2 is offline  
Nov 17th, 2004, 02:29 PM
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Why are bad students 'sent down' from university?
elaine is offline  
Nov 17th, 2004, 02:56 PM
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I hate it when people ask questions like that I don't know the answer to... I HAVE to go and find out.

It's not in Fowler, but I found two options on the webbr />
Grass = informant (derivation: evolved from original Grasshopper = copper - a policeman)

Possibly from the rhyming slang grass in the park - 'nark', meaning informer.
sheila is offline  
Nov 17th, 2004, 03:08 PM
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A theory

GRASS - to squeal or inform. "This word is derived from Cockney rhyming slang 'grasshopper,' meaning 'copper,' i.e., 'policeman.' 'Grass' sometimes appears as a noun, meaning both 'informer' or 'stool pigeon' and the 'act of informing' itself. It has shown up in the new form 'supergrass,' describing an I.R.A. member who turns 'queen's evidence' and names his former comrades." From "British English from A to Zed" by Norman Schur (FirstHarperPerennial edition, 1991).
Travelermebe is offline  
Nov 17th, 2004, 05:01 PM
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thanks to above posts. tonight on Corrie someone said 'I'm not a grass" - i hadn't thought of it being a noun.
PalQ is offline  
Nov 17th, 2004, 05:12 PM
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Hi Pal - according to a Coronation Street board I frequent "grass him up" means that a stoolpigeon "spilled the beans" on him.
Or, according to
it comes from rhyming slang - grass in the park = narc. Not sure about that one, though. I think the term "grass" might have been around longer than the term "Narc".
Lately (in Canada) Tyrone's been heard to say he's not a grass ie he hasn't told on Kirk.
taggie is offline  
Nov 17th, 2004, 05:45 PM
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Six or seven years ago I was in a "Tourist" Spanish class in Granada and one of the fellow students was a Brit who described himself as an "actor". Very congeniel, very nice, just a "good guy". At the end of the class he "admitted" that he had been in a Brit soap opera for several years but had been written out by being sent to jail. The next week, in Spain, reading some English newspaper, there was an editorial about what a rotten deal the character, [my fellow student] had gotten. Don't know what the show was, who he was, etc, but it is kind of a brush with fame for a pedestrian traveler thru life!
weber6560 is offline  
Nov 17th, 2004, 06:27 PM
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Taggie- what is the web site for your Corrie board - like you i am fascinated by the show, keeping in line with my mania for Britain and Brits. Like you we get the show about 10 months late, it's frustrating to go to UK and see new ones on the tellie and then come back and be behind but knowing things of the future. In tonight's show, i also watch it on CBC, Fizz said she wasn't a grass, meaning she didn't spill the beans on Janice. But then she overheard Chesny, the impish kid involved in driving Rita to sell The Cabin with the fabricated law suit and court testimony, saying how he had been told and rehearsed what to say in court. So now i figure that Fizz may well turn out to be a 'grass' when she spills the beans on Cilia's plans to get money from Rita for chesney's fake injuries. Well i don't know but someone will 'grass out' Cilia, the most reprehensible of many reprehensible characters i've seen on the street, including her boyfriend Les Battersby, and let Rita off the hook. Maybe it will turn out to be Les, if he gets mad at Cilia (sp?). Anyway Corrie is a lot of fun, thank you CBC! (I'm in the Detroit area so we luckily get CBC, Don Cherry is another of my favorites, though i despise everything he stands for!
PalQ is offline  
Nov 18th, 2004, 03:33 AM
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According to my trusty OED "send down" can mean sending a message or dispatch (or naughty student) from a city to the country.
Being "sent down" means being expelled. Naughty students can also be rusticated for a period. This again literally means being sent into the country.
Nov 18th, 2004, 05:02 AM
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I absolutely love the thought of you all watching Coronation Street in America/Canada - it's not something I have ever considered before. My husband was born and bred in Lancashire although he says he dislikes the programe. But he always seems to be watching it when I am! Do you have difficulty with the accents at all? None of them are really that broad I suppose.
You can visit the Corrie set in Machester and of course have the inevitable photo taken outside the Rovers.
Do any of you watch Eastenders?
Morgana is offline  
Nov 18th, 2004, 05:32 AM
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Taggie: it's not 'narc' (which I assume has something to do wih narcotics ?) but 'nark' which as Sheila rightly said means informer. I'm sure I've come across the phrase 'copper's nark', meaning police informer, in Victorian writing. I don't think 'grass' appeared in this context until at least the 1950s.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Nov 18th, 2004, 05:35 AM
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I never thought of 'grass' as being rhyming slang, though it sounds perfectly plausible. I thought it had something to do with 'Whispering grass', which (as I recall) was a song by the Mills Brothers. Maybe that was just serendipity.

Coronation St is going through quite a strong spell of writing at the moment (Blanche: "Ken doesn't want to be staring at thongs whilst he's writing! He's an educated man."). But I think they'll have a way to go before they match the immortal Bet Lynch after her husband (a short and fussy man) stormed out after throwing a wobbly - "Ee, you'd never think he had Donald Duck on his toothbrush".
PatrickLondon is offline  
Nov 18th, 2004, 10:37 AM
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Thanks caroline_edinburgh for the correction... now I can see where the phrase may have come from. Makes sense.

Goodness, how interesting to see that so many on here are Corrie fans.

Morgana, actually you can no longer visit the set - they closed it to tours when they went to 4 episodes a week. There is a Canadian woman who takes a group over every year and they are allowed on the set, but as far as scheduled regular tours go, they are no longer.

I don't have trouble with the accents but some people have been known to use the mute button and get the closed captioning feature going in order to figure out what's being said!

PalQ, I frequent Mike Plowman's Corrie guestbook site at - he also has visual updates for each of the countries where the show airs, and a couple of years ago he began doing them for the ITV site ( well. So I have 2 Corrie timelines going - I read the Brit updates from the ITV site, and also keep up with any Canadian ones I miss. Mike puts the Brit updates on his site after about 2 weeks, I think. He also has archives of old shows, news articles, etc. Yes, we are very behind over here and it will not improve, because the CBC sched gets interrupted with Olympics, etc. which is a sore spot with the folks on the guestbook.
taggie is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 10:17 AM
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Taggie: thanx for the site - now my dilemna, should i read the current plots and then have my suspense ruined now as CBC shows episodes months later? I know when i was in the UK recently i saw a paper headline about Mike Baldwin being killed off, actually dying from a terminal illness over a year or more; now i'm looking at every cough Mike may make to see if the illness is beginning! On on the tellie on my recent UK visit i saw Todd being dumped by Sarah, who turned out to be the tart that many thought she was when she slept with Todd's bro Jason after Candice's 18th birthday party - so do i know want to know now about how current plots, like Tracy having her baby (she can't actually give it to the Croppers, and again i know by my brother just having seen in UK show Tracy pushing a pram; or whether the 'sent down' Rita will be exonerated; i suspect the evil Cilla and her impish son Chesney will be exposed as frauds, I suspect Fizz will 'grass up' her mom after hearing Chesney say everything was rehearsed to make fake court testimony, or Tracy 'grassing up' Steve as the father of her child, or Steve and his ex-wife being married again? So I'm probably off to the site to find out!
Speaking of being 'grassed up' it seems fat Jack was 'grassed up' by the Aussie hippie girl who took over his Garden Plot and grew grass ("cannabis" in the states).
PalQ is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 11:04 AM
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As for EastEnders is seems even to be losing fans in UK, havn't seen it on CBC or PBS lately but could be. We also like Emmerdale on CBC, but this show is nearly 3 years in arrears when shown here it seems.
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