Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sass n.

[SE sauce, cheek, impudence]

(orig. US) cheek, impertinence, rudeness.

[US]J.C. Neal Charcoal Sketches (1865) 173: Oh, I don’t mind sass.
[US]C.G. Leland ‘Breitmann in Battle’ in Hans Breitmann’s Party 5: Who der Teufel pe’s de repels und vhere dey kits deir sass.
[US]W.H. Thomes Bushrangers 315: We values young women [...] and we don’t allow nobody but their husbands to talk sass to ’em.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 Sept. 14/4: I’ll strive to be a holy lass / And never give my parents sass, / Or yell and curse, and kick the cat, / Or spoil my go-to-meeting hat.
[US]Dave Reed ‘Mister Johnson Don’t Get Gay With Me’ 🎵 He was just about to give de lady sass.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 40: There would surely be a mix-up, for Mrs. De Shine would take no sass from any person.
[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 17 Jan. 7/4: He’ll stand no sass from head or peb, / Or drab or drowsy sleeper.
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in DN IV:iii 200: sass, impudence. ‘I don’t have to take your sass’.
[US]Nashville Globe (TN) 21 Dec. 3/2: Why, sur, Ise be’n tekin’ yo’r sass fer nigh onto er ye’r.
[US]J. Tully Shanty Irish 118: Niver let yere infariors give ye any sass, me boy.
[US]L. Hughes Mulatto in Three Negro Plays (1969) Act I: You comes home wid yo’ head full o’ stubborness and yo’ mouth full o’ sass for me an’ de white folks an’ everybody.
[US]F. Swados House of Fury (1959) 170: Men’s voices, deep and harsh: ‘Get along there, none a your sass’.
[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 85: Nigger, I’m tired of yo sass.
[US]C. Clausen I Love You Honey, But the Season’s Over 117: Oh the sass I put up with!
[US]D. Goines Dopefiend (1991) 59: You ain’t too big for me to take a strap to, and don’t you give me no sass.
[UK]J. Mowry Six Out Seven (1994) 204: Boy! Are you givin me sass?
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Culture 14 May 18: Her brand of sex-meets-sass is the very stuff of contemporary iconography.
[Aus](con. 1960s-70s) T. Taylor Top Fellas 52/2: Something with a bit of sass, a bit of violence.
[Scot](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 518: Gone was the sass, and she didn’t seem to want a boyfriend any more.
[Aus](con. 1943) G.S. Manson Coorparoo Blues [ebook] Tremayne was now regaining his sass.
[US]Baltimore Sun (MD) 3 June T4/2: Give me Drag Queens, give me strippers, give me sass and magic!

In derivatives

sassiness (n.)


[US]T. Winthrop Life in the Open Air 46: Personal ‘sassiness’ is a trait of which every Yankee is proud.
[US]Bismarck Trib. (ND) 9 July 2/2: De ole man called it to himself sassiness, an’ impudence.
[US]Life Mag. 20 310: Don’t get sassy, because sassiness don't go in this game.
[US]W.E.B. DuBois Negro Church 203: The youth is apt to mistake ‘sassiness’ for courage, mannishness for manliness, and false pride for self-respect.
[US]H.R. Martin Tillie 299: He stared at her for a moment — then answered with a mildness that amazed his wife even more than Tillie 's ‘sassiness’ had done.
Godwin’s Wkly (Saly Lake City, UT) 19 Feb. 14/2: There is a good deal of fighting blood in both our families, dating back to the sassiness of ’76.
[US]K. Lumpkin Making of a Southerner 86: Could not men recount a hundred tales with slight variations of Negroes ‘becoming very insolent,’ of ‘uppityness,’ ‘sassiness’.
[UK]Stage (London) 5 Oct. 21/4: Elvis Payne and Patrick Muray were full of vitality and [...] a knd of cockney sassiness.

In compounds

sass-box (n.)

1. (US) a cheeky child; a saucy young woman.

J. Loud Orphan Boy 49: What do you stay here for, you young sass-box?
[US]E. Eggleston Hoosier School-Master (1892) 130: Yes, I war, too, you little sass-box!
J.T. Trowbridge Farnell’s Folly 45: ‘What’s that, sass-box?’ His mother made a dash at him.
Bill Nye Hist. U.S. 241: The old man, it seems, at first told the boy that he had better come down [...] but the young sass-box — apple-sass- box, I presume — told him to avaunt.
[US]Monroe City Democrat (MO) 26 May 2/2: ‘I’ll let ye know how ye call my gran’daughter “red head,” ye little sass-box!’ .
[US]J.W. Carr ‘Word-List from Hampstead, N.H.’ in DN III iii 198: sass-box, n. A saucy or pert woman or child.
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in DN IV:iii 210: sass-box, impudent child. ‘The little sass-box told me to go to grass.’.
[UK]Taunton Courier 26 Apr. 10/3: Sass-box — ‘Sarce box’ in Somerset — impudent fellow or girl.
[US]S. King Christine 503: She looked irritated for a moment, then smiled. ‘Ye’re a sassbox, Dennis Guilder,’ she said.

2. (US) the mouth.

Washington Herald (DC) 28 Nov. 27/1: ‘Thar ’yer blarsted yankee! That’ll hold yer sass-box shut!’.
sass-mouth (n.)

(US/W.I.) verbal aggression.

[UK]T. White Catch a Fire 132: Dere would be some fockin’ donkey dung sass-mouth.
P. Jones Color of Family 27: There was positively no cause for your sass-mouth, girl.
sass-talking (n.)

(US) talking in a cheeky manner.

[US]G. Pelecanos Right As Rain 124: Earl didn’t understand why Ray didn’t just backhand the girl when she got to sass-talking like she was prone to do.
E. Silver Sins of the Heart n.p.: He wondered why she was all swagger and sass talking to him.