Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sassy adj.

[SE saucy/sass n.]

1. (orig. US) cheeky, spirited, back-talking.

[US]S. Smith Major Downing (1834) 128: Them are sassy chaps in Portland would laugh at me.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick in England II 99: He’ll get sassy, you may depend.
[US]F.M. Whitcher Widow Bedott Papers (1883) 22: I [...] was afeard they’d say something sassy tew us.
[US]M. Griffith Autobiog. of a Female Slave 287: A sassy, impudent onruly gal.
[US]‘Artemus Ward’ Artemus Ward, His Book 132: She jerked her hed back and took a larfin survey of the aujience, sendin a broadside of sassy smiles in among em.
[UK]De Trouble Begins at Nine in Darkey Drama 1 I: Don’t be sassy, boy!
[US]C. White Magic Penny in Darkey Drama 5 Act I: Oh, you sassy nigger.
[US]G.W. Peck Peck’s Sunshine 295: We were mad, and sassy, and full of fight.
[US]P.L. Dunbar ‘Signs Of The Times’ in Lyrics of Lowly Life 183: Nebbah min’, you sassy rascal.
[WI]J.G. Cruickshank Negro Humour 11: Hi, but you is real sassy.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 53: She says something kind of low and sassy, pokes her face up, and begins to pucker.
[US]R. Lardner You Know Me Al (1984) 66: I asked him what he was waiting for and he said Oh nothing, kind of sassy.
[US] ‘The Old Hen Cackled’ in T.W. Talley Negro Folk Rhymes 50: De ole hen she cackled, / An’ stayed down in de bo’n. / She git fat an’ sassy, / A-eatin’ up de co’n.
[US]L. Hughes Mulatto in Three Negro Plays (1969) Act I: Says he’s mo’ sassy and impudent now than any nigger he ever seed.
[US] in G. Legman Limerick (1953) 344: There was a young fellow named Spratt / Who was terribly sassy and fat.
[WI]R. Mais Brother Man (1966) 60: ‘Never seen a young gal so sassy.’ ‘You don’ see sassy yet.’.
[US]B. Hecht Gaily, Gaily 172: The arrogant bosses who bilked the workers and called for the state militia to shoot the bohunks down when they became too sassy.
[US]D. Goines Dopefiend (1991) 152: If I’d had me a sassy little piece like that.
[US]C. White Life and Times of Little Richard 124: My voice was the most exciting voice in the world. It was a sassy voice, and I gave a message and it was sassy.
[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 79: She was this sassy, glam-babe blonde [...] providing herself as groin-swell for the hungry droves who wove through the slop lines.
[US]A.N. LeBlanc Random Family 168: She became sassier – almost rowdy.
[US]N. Tabor in Oxford American 2 Mar. 🌐 ‘Word on base was that if you got a ticket and got sassy with a cop, he would handcuff you and beat you’.
[Aus]T. Spicer Good Girl Stripped Bare 272: Idealism [...] I envisage her as a sassy broad with a big ‘I’ on her chest.
[Ire]P Howard Braywatch 382: What she lacks in beauty, she more than makes up for in being a sassy cow.

2. smart, fashionable; also as fig. term of approval (see cite 1944).

[US]Breckenridge News (Cloveport, KY) 23 Aug. 3/3: One day I met a ‘rainbow’ that was ‘sassy’ and called him a ‘soldier’.
[US]Louisiana Democrat 14 Feb. 1/6: ‘By the way, Rosalind, get on to this hat, will you.’ ‘Oh you sassy divil, it’s English’.
[US]Ade Artie (1963) 87: I’m goin’ to be the sassiest club boy in the whole push. [...] I’ll come hot-footin’ in here with my knee-pants and a dinky coat.
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 392: He looked all to the good, fat, sassy and dressed-up.
[US]H.G. Van Campen ‘Life on Broadway’ in McClure’s Mag. Mar. 39/2: Where’d you git the sassy wardrobe, kiddo?
[US]S. Lewis Arrowsmith 455: After all the compliments he’s been getting from the sassiest dames.
[US]E. Wilson 7 Apr. [synd. col.] Gerrude Niesen, the lassie with the sassy chassis.
[US]C. Hiaasen Tourist Season (1987) 220: Kara Lynn came downstairs wearing a sassy lemon-yellow tennis skirt.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 8: sassy – stylish, admirable: ‘That hat is sassy – I like it’.
[US]F. Kellerman Stalker (2001) 112: Her red Beemer convertible [...] It was a sassy, smart bitch, but the problem was it was so low down to the ground and hard to find.

In compounds

sassy suds (n.)

(US) champagne.

[US]Eve. Statesman (Walla Walla, WA) 5 Mar. 3/3: When we enterain fittingly we [...] ‘lick up the wealthy water,’ or the ‘sassy suds’.

In phrases

sling sassy (v.)

(US black) to show sudden contempt or cheekiness.

in J.A. Harrison ‘Negro Eng.’ in Modern Lang. Notes Feb. in Major (1994).