On Monday I was chatting with some political types (or rather they were chatting and I was sternly drinking my wine) when they all started to use the verb astroturfing. It should be noted that I'm not quite sure how to spell this. Astro Turf is, officially, two words and a registered trade mark. The conversation went something like:
"Oh, he's only astroturfing."
"I know he's only astroturfing. Obviously it's Astro Turf."
"But the papers can see that he's astroturfing too. They won't buy it."
Often you hear a new word, but it kind of doesn't work because people sound that little bit smug while they're saying it and then explain it afterwards to make themselves sound clever. Not here. This was clearly a standard part of their vocabulary that they used as freely as I would use the word drinking. So I asked what it meant.
They all looked at me as though I were some kind of hick, which of course I am, and one of them, descending briefly from the higher realm of politics explained quickly that Astro Turf is meant to look like grass but is in fact manufactured, and that astroturfing is therefore when a politician carefully organises and controls a campaign, but tries to make it look as though it's all coming up from the grass roots.
Incidentally, the root of radical is radix which is the Latin word for root (you may need to read that twice). Thus a radish is a root, to eradicate is to pull up by the roots, and grass roots politics is etymologically just the same as radical politics.
I'd vote for that.