Etymology
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grass roots (n.)

1650s, from grass + root (n.). The image of grass roots as the most fundamental level of anything is from 1901; U.S. political sense of "the rank and file of the electorate" (also grassroots) is attested from 1912; as an adjective by 1918.

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Definitions of grass roots

grass roots (n.)
the essential foundation or source;
the problem was attacked at the grass roots
grass roots (n.)
the common people at a local level (as distinguished from the centers of political activity);
From wordnet.princeton.edu