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Learned borrowing from Latin superciliōsus (haughty).


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



supercilious (comparative more supercilious, superlative most supercilious)

  1. Arrogantly superior; showing contemptuous indifference; haughty.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:arrogant
    • 1638, Tho[mas] Herbert, Some Yeares Travels Into Divers Parts of Asia and Afrique. [], 2nd edition, London: [] R[ichard] Bi[sho]p for Iacob Blome and Richard Bishop, →OCLC, book II, page 206:
      [H]is ſupercilious glances grevv humbled, yea, his dazeling ſplendor (eclipſt in the ſetting [i.e., death] of his Maſter) becomes quickly darkned: []
    • 1886 October – 1887 January, H[enry] Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., published 1887, →OCLC:
      "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 1, in The Great Gatsby, New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, published 1953, →ISBN, →OCLC:
      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”, in 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