Printable Version
Pronunciation: saw-si Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Impudent, impertinent, flippant in a playful way, as 'a saucy child'. 2. Attractive, stylish in a suggestive way, as 'a saucy dress'. 3. Like or with sauce, as 'saucy meatballs'.

Notes: Here is a word whose metaphorical meaning has reduced its literal sense to a third definition. The adverb is the expectable saucily and the noun is sauciness. Don't forget to change the Y to I when you spell them. Its mispronunciation, sassy, has become an acceptable synonym.

In Play: Saucy implies a playfulness in impertinence: "In response to his proposal of marriage, Sheila flashed Rodney a saucy grin and said, excitedly, 'I'd love to." It can also carry a vague sexual innuendo: "Lucy Lastic always wears suggestive dresses and sports a rather saucy coiffure."

Word History: Today's Good Word is obviously a combination of sauce + -y. Sauce was borrowed by Middle English from Old French sauce, which it inherited from Latin salsa "things salted", a noun use of feminine singular of the adjective salsus "salted". Salsus is the past participle of Latin sallere "to salt", a verb based on sal "salt", handed down from PIE sal- "salt". Somewhere between Latin and French the L turned to U, as many English-speakers pronounce the L in milk and belt. Roman soldiers were paid not only with money, they also received a salarium "for salt", a word that broadened its definition to cover the basic money received, as well. It was then trimmed down to salaire in Old French (still is in Modern French), which became salarie in Norman-French, whence English salary. (Now a word of thanks to our saucy old friend and wordmaster, Lew Jury, for continuing to support us with semantically wayward Good Words like today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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