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 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

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

Examples from the Web for superciliousness

Historical Examples of superciliousness

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for superciliousness



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 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