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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for superciliousness
Historical Examples
  • She looked at him with a superciliousness not natural to her.

    The Wild Geese Stanley John Weyman
  • Then his superciliousness would, if not vanish, at least subside.

    The Young Duke Benjamin Disraeli
  • There was no ostentation or superciliousness about Mrs. Washington.

    Stories of New Jersey

    Frank Richard Stockton
  • I acknowledged that if any superciliousness existed in Mizora while I was there, I must have had it.

    Mizora: A Prophecy Mary E. Bradley
  • What does superciliousness imply according to its etymology?

    English Synonyms and Antonyms James Champlin Fernald
  • A flush coloured Soames' pale cheeks, but his superciliousness did not waver.

    The Forsyte Saga, Complete John Galsworthy
  • He who does not conform to courtesy, mostly pays the penalty of his superciliousness.

  • There is nothing like the insolence and the superciliousness of people of that class.

    Wanted: A Cook Alan Dale
  • Instead of reverence in the sanctuary, is there not superciliousness?

    The Hearth-Stone

    Samuel Osgood
  • superciliousness, in youth or maturity, is a sign of weakness.

British Dictionary definitions for superciliousness


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 superciliousness



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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