- haughtily disdainful or contemptuous, as a person or a facial expression.
Origin of supercilious
SynonymsSee more synonyms for supercilious on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for supercilious
Too often, it's just our supercilious attitude to this thing called relief.The Pointlessness of Some Disaster Charity After the Indian Floods
June 26, 2013
To point that out, of course, will only strengthen her sense of being persecuted by supercilious elites.How Palin Flunks Feminism
November 26, 2010
Gore comes off as a supercilious grandstander who gets swatted away dismissively by the brilliant Bill Clinton.The Quiet General Strikes Back
October 15, 2010
"Not particularly," she replied, still chirpy as to tone and supercilious as to her manner.Good Indian
B. M. Bower
I asked him if, when he said his prayers, he was so supercilious as to pray for his daily biscuits.
In the classes above them the supernatural has been slain by the supercilious.
He never saluted me with other than what I regarded as a supercilious nod of the head.Wilfrid Cumbermede
Wrayson looked at him for a moment in supercilious surprise.The Avenger
E. Phillips Oppenheim
- displaying arrogant pride, scorn, or indifference
Word Origin and History for supercilious
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]