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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 superciliousness
Historical Examples
  • But there is something profoundly alienating in his unsympathetic tone, his "preciousness" and superciliousness.

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

    Mizora: A Prophecy Mary E. Bradley
  • The hay-trusser, which he obviously was, nodded with some superciliousness.

  • Then his superciliousness would, if not vanish, at least subside.

    The Young Duke Benjamin Disraeli
  • Though welcomed by the peer, they showed no signs of superciliousness when they found themselves cheek-by-jowl with the pauper.

    The Book of Christmas Thomas K. Hervey
  • He who does not conform to courtesy, mostly pays the penalty of his superciliousness.

  • It is at root a resistance to the superciliousness of the individual.

    What's Wrong With The World G.K. Chesterton
  • There is nothing like the insolence and the superciliousness of people of that class.

    Wanted: A Cook Alan Dale
  • Arthur recognized it by its airs, its superciliousness, and several other bad qualities.

    The Art of Disappearing John Talbot Smith
  • 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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