mid-14c., "small, shallow dish," from Anglo-Latin saucerium and Old French saussier (Modern French saucière) "sauce dish," from Late Latin salsarium, neuter of salsarius "of or for salted things," from Latin salsus (see sauce (n.)).
Originally a small dish or pan in which sauce is set on a table. Meaning "small, round, shallow vessel for supporting a cup and retaining any liquid which might spill" is attested from c. 1700.
Figurative of large, round eyes (as of a ghost or a person frightened by one) from 14c. (13c. in Anglo-French) and thus originally a reference to the condiment dish. Short for flying saucer by 1947; hence saucerman, saucerian, etc.
updated on January 03, 2022