Green’s Dictionary of Slang

go to grass v.

[fig. uses of SE go to grass, of an animal, to be put to pasture]

1. (US, also come to grass) to be knocked down; to collapse [lit. idea of falling to the grass during open-air prizefights].

[US]Balance 17 Feb. 51: Now he will have to go to grass, as the saying is.
[US]Flash (N.Y.) 10 July 2/3: In the twenty-eighth Bob had utterly lost the use of his right mawler, and went to grass.
[UK]Era (London) 26 Jan. 10/3: Weston was in a ticklish position at the ropes, from which he released himself by going to grass.
[UK](con. 1821) Fights for the Championship 65: He received one heavily upon the mouth which again ‘brought him to grass’ and drew lots of gravy.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Victoria (Melbourne) 23 May 4/1: [A]fter some sharp fibbing, both went to grass.
[UK]Cheshire Obs. 18 Aug. 8/3: Panfish smacking Grasshopper’s kissing trap, which nearly made Grassey go to grass.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 7 Apr. 4/1: He was unable to get a hold, and both went to grass.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Jan. 14/1: In the Steeplechase on New Year’s Day he cut out the work at so warm a pace that each of his four opponents came to grass, leaving the plucky son of Horatio to waltz in by himself.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Mar. 14/3: Finally, both men went to grass in the fire-place, the editor demanding 30-minutes’ time to allow him to search for some of his lost brains, the auctioneer bitterly declaring that he never had any brains to lose.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 28 Apr. 4/6: A shell carries half his stomach into the next district and [...] he goes to grass with his head on his boots.
[US]H.E. Hamblen Yarns of Bucko Mate 52: Being now an old-timer myself, I shoved a Norwegian through the door, and as he went to grass, I sprang lightly out.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 16 July 14/2: He back-stepped sudden fer repairs, an’ tangles round Snorter’s right leg, an’ both goes to grass.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 5 Aug. 5/3: Down he goes, and then the other / Gets to grass without a cry.

2. to vanish suddenly, to disappear, to be dismissed (cf. go to grass! excl.).

[US]S. Smith Major Downing (1834) 180: As for going to South Carolina to fight such chaps as these, I’d sooner let nullification go to grass and eat mullein.
[US]Durivage & Burnham Stray Subjects (1848) 95: A gentleman who was swimming about, upon being refused, declared that he might go to grass with his old canoe, for he didn’t think it would be much of a shower, anyhow [F&H].
Satirist & Blade (Boston, MA) 19 Feb. n.p.: We even saw several [i.e. ‘nymphs of the pave] whom we had supposed had gone to grass, attempting to revive their faded beauties.
[US]G. Thompson Jack Harold 64: Let the old vagabond go to grass.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn 255: I thought we was on the right track of a slution [sic], but it’s gone to grass.
[US] ‘Central Connecticut Word-List’ in DN III:i 10: go to grass, v. phr. To be off, to get out.

3. of a limb, to waste away.

[UK]Sl. Dict. 181: [...] it is said of wasted limbs that they have ‘gone to grass’.

4. (US) to die, to be ruined, to retire.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[US]M. Levin Reporter 123: Tell him to go to grass.
[US]L. Pound ‘American Euphemisms for Dying’ in AS XI:3 198: Gone to grass.
[US](con. 1900s) G. Swarthout Shootist 121: A man like me keeps you frisky. When I pull out, you’ll go to grass.

5. to lose (a competition).

[US]R. Waln Hermit in America on Visit to Phila. 2nd ser. 25: My attention was soon attracted to the voices of the players. [...] ‘Now you may go to grass’.
[US]World (N.Y.) 24 July 3/1: The cow-eyed daisies [...] in centre field held up their ruffled heads and saw the champions go to grass again.
[US](con. 1860s) W.E. Barton Hero in Homespun 24: The mountings is fur the Union [...] they’re goin’ to raise troops, an’ let the Gov’nor go to grass.