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Origin of supercilious

From the Latin word superciliōsus, dating back to 1520–30. See supercilium, -ous
Related formssu·per·cil·i·ous·ly, adverbsu·per·cil·i·ous·ness, nounun·su·per·cil·i·ous, adjectiveun·su·per·cil·i·ous·ly, adverbun·su·per·cil·i·ous·ness, noun

Synonyms for supercilious

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Antonyms for supercilious Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for superciliously

haughtily, insolently, loftily, superciliously

Examples from the Web for superciliously

Historical Examples of superciliously

  • "I really cannot answer that question," said Ogden, superciliously.

    One Of Them

    Charles James Lever

  • "Not at all, not at all," said one of the guests, superciliously.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete

    Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

  • “I am a gentleman, not a chapman,” (a retail tradesman) said Jack, superciliously.

    Clare Avery

    Emily Sarah Holt

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

    The Telegraph Boy

    Horatio Alger, Jr.

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

    Caught In The Net

    Emile Gaboriau

British Dictionary definitions for superciliously


  1. displaying arrogant pride, scorn, or indifference
Derived Formssuperciliously, adverbsuperciliousness, noun

Word Origin for supercilious

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

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