As previously noted in this space, “ass” and its derivatives (bad-ass, big-ass, etc.) are fast becoming normalized and commercialized. One recent bit of evidence: this punning outdoor ad for bareMinerals, spotted in San Francisco:
“Kiss My Sass”: bareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick
It’s a twist, of course, on “kiss my ass [arse]”: fugeddabouddit, screw you. In this case, kiss also suggests the product category.
The slightly naughty language represents a departure for bareMinerals’ 35-year-old, San Francisco-based parent company, Bare Escentuals, whose About page is wholesomely earnest:
Love. Understanding. Community. That’s what Bare Escentuals represents. It’s a trusted source. It’s the belief that products can actually be good, makeup can be fun, business can be personal and companies can behave more like communities.
The company built its reputation through direct sales on QVC and later moved into department stores, beauty boutiques, and its own free-standing shops. Product names have traditionally been mildly descriptive and aspirational – Mineral Veil, Prime Time, Active Cell Renewal Night Serum – but lately have nudged into edgier territory (Lash Domination mascara, blushers called The Close Call and The Indecent Proposal).
“Sass” (from “sassy,” a variation of “saucy”) has been around in American English since the 1830s. Sassy was a magazine for teen girls (1988-1994) that lives on in tribute blogs and books.
As for “moxie” in Marvelous Moxie lipstick – trademark registration pending – it’s a synonym for “courage” or “aggressive energy” that was borrowed (around 1930, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary) from the Moxie beverage brand name, trademark-protected since 1924:
[A] bitter, non-alcoholic drink, 1885, perhaps as far back as 1876 as the name of a patent medicine advertised to “build up your nerve;” despite legendary origin stories put out by the company that made it, it is perhaps ultimately from a New England Indian word (it figures in river and lake names in Maine, where it is apparently from Abenaki and means “dark water”). Much-imitated in its day; in 1917 the Moxie Company won an infringement suit against a competitor's beverage marketed as “Proxie.”
The Moxie brand abides; after a couple of changes of ownership, it’s now the property of Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New England, which produces the beverage in Londonderry, NH. Other bottling companies manufacture Moxie in Washington, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. There’s a wonderfully eclectic fan site here, and some interesting trademark lore here.
Love that wordmark.
There are also Moxie showerheads, Moxie software, a Moxie Cycling Co., a Moxie golf academy, Moxie dental adhesives, Moxie pest control, Moxie candles, Moxie golf clubs, Moxie “canine candles,” and many other Moxie marks.
None of these Moxies is to be confused with moxa, the bundle of herbs used in moxibustion, a traditional medical therapy. Moxa comes from mogusa, the Japanese word for mugwort.