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From Latin superciliōsus (haughty), from supercilium (eyebrow, arrogance).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌsjuː.pə(ɹ)ˈsɪ.li.əs/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌs(j)u.pɚˈsɪ.li.əs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪliəs


supercilious (comparative more supercilious, superlative most supercilious)

  1. Arrogantly superior; showing contemptuous indifference; haughty.
    • 1887, H. Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure[1]:
      "I've tried to be a good man, sir, and do my duty honest, and if it wasn't for the supercilus [sic] kind of way in which father carried on last night - a sort of sniffing at me as it were, as though he hadn't no opinion of my references and testimonials - I should feel easy enough in my mind."
    • 1925, F[rancis] Scott Fitzgerald, chapter I, in The Great Gatsby, New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, OCLC 884653065; republished New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1953, →ISBN:
      Now he was a sturdy, straw haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner.
    • 2013 May 23, Sarah Lyall, "British Leader’s Liberal Turn Sets Off a Rebellion in His Party," New York Times (retrieved 29 May 2013):
      Buffeted by criticism of his policy on Europe, battered by rebellion in the ranks over his bill to legalize same-sex marriage and wounded by the perception that he is supercilious, contemptuous and out of touch with mainstream Conservatism, Mr. Cameron earlier this week took the highly unusual step of sending a mass e-mail (or, as he called it, “a personal note”) to his party’s grass-roots members.


Derived terms[edit]