In marketing or politics, astroturfing is the practice of advertising in a way that makes it look like it's coming from a grassroots campaign, despite being backed by big money. The word in this sense emerged in a Canadian newspaper and then spread on Internet message boards throughout the 1990s, and comes from AstroTurf, the name of an actual synthetic turf company - since it's a brand of fake grass, it's a joke on the word "grassroots". The company was invented and patented in 1965 under the name ChemGrass, but was then rebranded after it was used in the Houston Astrodome sports stadium the following year, and turf has been around with the definition "slab of grass" since Old English. Although, now, more people probably associate the word with the fake grass, since that was clipped from the company name.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.