This comes from an English Language Lerner's Stack Exchange question, the current answers to which are lacking in historical/legal analysis of the term.
What is the origin of the legal phrase "grand theft auto"? In particular, is there any legal or historical rationale for the ordering of the terms? (E.g. why isn't it "grand theft of auto" or "auto grand theft" or even "grand auto theft".)
There are some claims that it's simply an elision of a comma ("grand theft, auto") implying that it's a simplification of something like an entry in an (alphabetized) list of crimes. Others have indicated that there might be some Law French or Latin influence in putting the descriptor last (along the lines of "courts martial"). Are either of these accurate with the historical origin of the term, or is there some other reason?