noun : a saucy impudent person
Underused in modern English, the word saucebox has since the late 16th century referred to the boldly rude among us. Jonathan Swift called Stella a "saucebox" twice in his Journal to Stella, a series of letters written between 1710 and 1713:
To-day I have been visiting, which I had long neglected; and I dined with Mrs. Barton alone; and sauntered at the Coffee-house till past eight, and have been busy till eleven, and now I'll answer your letter, saucebox. Well, let me see now again. My wax candle's almost out, but however I'll begin.
We all know, of course, that a good sauce can save a dish from mediocrity and worse, but there's an element of rudeness in the figurative use of saucy that raises some questions about the function of 16th century culinary sauces: were they rude? That answer may be hiding in this fact: the meaning of saucy that has to do with actual sauce appears, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, to predate the bold and sassy one by merely a few years.