Time magazine carries the list of ‘Top 10 Bad-ass wives’ (in the world, or in history) in its July 21 issue with the lead copy:
When a comedian tried to throw a pie in her husband's face, Wendi Deng, wife of Rupert Murdoch, leaped into the fray, blasting the man with a fierce right hand. TIME takes a look at other wives who kick ass.
In the “Top 10 bad-ass wives” included are The Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, Queen Isabella of Spain, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sarah Palin, Michelle Obama, and Elin Nordegren who wielded a golf club, chasing her husband, Tiger Woods around their mansion in Florida—"That's pretty bad-ass," according to the writer.
Though I interpret “bad-ass” wives as “tough or aggressive,” as Oxford Online Dictionary defines, I'm not sure if the word is used in a positive sense or in a sarcastic tone, because another dictionary, Merriam-Webster, defines “bad-ass” as (1) Ready to cause or get into trouble, followed by (2) of formidable strength or skill. Is the meaning of “bad-ass” in “bad-ass wives” and “That's pretty bad-ass” the same?
Also, I wonder how ‘bad-ass’ came to mean ‘tough and aggressive’ or ‘ready to cause trouble,’ whichever. I searched the origin of the word on Google in vain. Can somebody teach me?