Etymology
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saucy (adj.)

c. 1500, "resembling sauce" (a sense now obsolete), later, of persons, words, etc., "impertinent in speech or conduct, flippantly bold, cheeky" (1520s), from sauce (n.) + -y (2). The connecting notion is sauce in the figurative sense of "that which adds intensity, piquancy in words or actions."

Compare Skelton's have eaten sauce for "be abusive." Also compare sauce malapert "impertinence" (1520s), and sauce (n.) in its obsolete use as a vocative for "impudent person" (1530s).  In Shakespeare, with overtones of "wanton, lascivious," it was "a term of serious condemnation" [OED]. Also compare salty in similar senses.

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saucily (adv.)

"impudently, with impertinent boldness," 1540s; see saucy + -ly (2).

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sassy (adj.)

"outspoken, impudent, cheeky," 1833, American English, alteration of saucy. Related: Sassily; sassiness.

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sauciness (n.)

"the character of being saucy; saucy language or conduct," 1540s, from saucy + -ness. Once (1550s) as sauceliness.

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saucebox (n.)

"one addicted to making saucy remarks," 1580s, sawcebox; see saucy + box (n.1). There never seems to have been a literal sense in reference to the "condiment" meaning of sauce; a sauce-boat (1733) was a small, lipped vessel for sauces, and compare saucer. A saucery (mid-15c.) was "a place where sauces are made."

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sauce (n.)

mid-14c., "condiment for meat, fish, etc.; pickling liquid, brine," from Old French sauce, sausse, from Latin salsa "things salted, salt food," noun use of fem. singular or neuter plural of adjective salsus "salted," from past participle of Old Latin sallere "to salt," from sal (genitive salis) "salt" (from PIE root *sal- "salt").

From late 14c. as "a curative preparation, medicinal salt." Often in 15c.-17. sawce, salse; constant reimportation of the word in French cookery terms might have helped keep the older spelling. Also formerly applied broadly in provincial English and U.S. to condiments of any kind, especially garden vegetables or roots eaten with meat (1620s), also known as garden-sauce.

Figurative meaning "something which adds piquancy to words or actions" is recorded from c. 1500; the sense of "impertinence" is by 1835, but the connection of ideas in it is much older (see saucy, and compare sass). Slang meaning "liquor" is attested by 1940. Figurative phrases suggesting "subject to the same kind of usage" is by 1520s (serued with the same sauce).

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petulant (adj.)

1590s, "immodest, wanton, saucy," from French petulant (mid-14c.), from Latin petulantem (nominative petulans) "wanton, froward, saucy, insolent," present participle of petere "to attack, assail; strive after; ask for, beg, beseech" (from PIE root *pet- "to rush, to fly"). Meaning "irritable, manifesting peevish impatience" is by 1775, probably by influence of pet (n.2). Related: Petulantly.

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precocious (adj.)

1640s, "developed or ripe before the usual time," originally of plants, with -ous + Latin praecox (genitive praecocis) "maturing early," from prae "before" (see pre-) + coquere "to ripen," literally "to cook" (from PIE root *pekw- "to cook, ripen").

Originally of flowers or fruits. Figurative use, of persons, dates, etc., "characteristic of early maturity," by 1670s. Related: Precociously; precociousness. Obsolete princock "pert, forward, saucy boy or youth" (16c.-18c.) might be a rude, low slang folk-etymology alteration of Latin praecox.

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pert (adj.)

mid-13c., "evident, unconcealed, manifest, apparent to the eye;" early 14c., "attractive, comely, of good appearance," shortened form of Middle English apert "open, frank," from Old French apert, from Latin apertus, past participle of aperire "to open" (see overt). Sense of "saucy, impudent" is recorded from late 14c. Less pejorative meaning "lively, brisk, in good spirits" (c. 1500) survives in U.S. dialectal peart (with Middle English alternative spelling). Related: Pertly; pertness.

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arch (adj.)

1540s, "chief, principal," from separate use of the prefix arch-, which is attested from late Old English (in archangel, archbishop, etc.). The prefix figured in so many derogatory uses (arch-rogue, arch-knave, etc.) that by mid-17c. it had acquired a meaning of "roguish, mischievous," softened by 19c. to "saucy." The shifting sense is exemplified by archwife (late 14c.), variously defined as "a wife of a superior order" or "a dominating woman, virago." Related: Archly; archness.

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