• sassy •
sæ-see • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Impudent, overly self-confident, cheeky, outspoken, and unconcerned about what others think of you. 2. Extremely flashy, as 'a sassy dress'.
Notes: The sense of today's word differs from saucy's in that the latter word can contain a sexual innuendo, as in 'saucy songs'. This word retains its reference to (hot) sauce. Sassy has lost all that and has built a new adverb, sassily, and a noun, sassiness. This word compares as sassier and sassiest.
In Play: Today's Good Word is most often used in reference to women: "Miss Deeds arrived at work with a sassy tattoo on her forearm and a prominent diamond-studded nose ring." It may also refer to inanimate objects that are flashy: "Maude Lynn Dresser wore a sassy outfit to the party: a brightly multicolored dress and no fewer than six strands of beads, some doubled."
Word History: This is a word reduction native to America, a mispronounced word whose mispronunciation took on a new meaning, like curtsy from courtesy and ornery from ordinary. Sauce was borrowed (and never returned) from Old French sauce, inherited from Latin salsa "salt food", the feminine form of the adjective salsus "salted", based on sal "salt". This word passed unchanged to Latin from PIE sal- "salt", which was kept by almost all Indo-European lanuages: Greek hals, Welsh halen, Russian sol' and, of course, English salt. The English word salad, too, is based on Vulgar Latin salata "salted", the feminine past participle of the verb salare "to salt". (Today's gratitude is owed Jeremy Busch, the sassy Grand Panjandrum of the Alpha Agora, who recommended today's Good Word.)
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