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[soo-per-sil-ee-uh s] /ˌsu pərˈsɪl i əs/
haughtily disdainful or contemptuous, as a person or a facial expression.
Origin of supercilious
From the Latin word superciliōsus, dating back to 1520-30. See supercilium, -ous
Related forms
superciliously, adverb
superciliousness, noun
unsupercilious, adjective
unsuperciliously, adverb
unsuperciliousness, noun
arrogant, scornful.
humble. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for superciliously
Historical Examples
  • "Not so bad for an animal of this country," said I, superciliously.

  • "You are really very kind," answered the Countess superciliously.

    Caught In The Net Emile Gaboriau
  • That is what I have never seen when I have looked on superciliously from the height of my own idleness at these drudging lives.

  • “You've never been to Central Russia,” says Milburd, superciliously.

    Happy-Thought Hall F. C. Burnand
  • "I didn't know you had ordered any gowns," I said superciliously.

    The Adventures of a Modest Man Robert W. Chambers
  • "I really cannot answer that question," said Ogden, superciliously.

    One Of Them Charles James Lever
  • The heavy half roar of the buffalo wolves, superciliously confident, echoed from the broken country.

    The Covered Wagon Emerson Hough
  • “I am a gentleman, not a chapman,” (a retail tradesman) said Jack, superciliously.

    Clare Avery Emily Sarah Holt
  • But this suggestion was received coldly by the ladies, who superciliously turned their backs upon it and the suggester.

  • "Our acquaintance was very slight," said Victor superciliously.

    The Telegraph Boy Horatio Alger, Jr.
British Dictionary definitions for superciliously


displaying arrogant pride, scorn, or indifference
Derived Forms
superciliously, adverb
superciliousness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin superciliōsus, from supercilium eyebrow; see superciliary
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for superciliously



1520s, from Latin superciliosus "haughty, arrogant," from supercilium "haughty demeanor, pride," literally "eyebrow" (via notion of raising the eyebrow to express haughtiness), from super "above" (see super-) + second element akin to cilium "eyelid," related to celare "to cover, hide," from PIE root *kel- "to conceal" (see cell).

Since cilium is more recent than supercilium, the former can be interpreted as a back-formation to the latter .... If indeed derived from the root *kel- 'to hide', we must still assume that a noun *kilium 'eyelid' existed, since the eyelid can 'hide' the eye, whereas the eyebrow does not have such a function. Thus, supercilium may originally have meant 'what is above the cilium'. [Michiel de Vaan, "Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages," Leiden, 2008]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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