Ad for Big Ass Fans, New York Times Sunday Magazine, August 11, 2013:
“Four microprocessors, one smart-ass ceiling fan.”
“Big Ass” translates to “extremely big,” but “smart-ass” does not (yet) mean “extremely smart.” It means “obnoxiously conceited and self-assertive; sarcastic; know-it-all.” Merriam-Webster online says “smart-ass” first appeared in print in 1964; it’s probably derived from “smart-aleck” (1865).
I would expect a “smart-ass fan” to tangle its blades in my hair and whistle leeringly. A wise guy, eh?
For some learned commentary on the productive power of -ass intensification, see Daniel Siddiqi, “The English Intensifier Ass” (Snippets, June 2011):
The first difference between ass and the other intensifiers in English is that ass is a bound morpheme, and apparently suffixal. However, ass also doesn’t act like the other suffixes that can attach to adjectives (-ly, -er, -est) nor does it
have the same distribution of the other intensifiers.
* I do like many of the Big Ass Fan product names: Haiku, SweatBee, Powerfoil, Airgo, Isis.