Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Feeling or showing haughty disdain. See Synonyms at proud.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Arrogantly superior; showing contemptuous indifference; haughty.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Lofty with pride; haughty; dictatorial; overbearing; arrogant

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Lofty with pride; haughtily contemptuous; overbearing.
  • Manifesting haughtiness, or proceeding from it; overbearing; arrogant: as, a supercilious air; supercilious behavior.
  • Synonyms Disdainful, contemptuous, overweening, lordly, consequential. See arrogance.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy
  • adj. expressive of contempt

Etymologies

Latin superciliōsus, from supercilium, eyebrow, pride : super-, super- + cilium, lower eyelid; see kel-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin superciliōsus ("haughty"), from supercilium ("eyebrow, arrogance"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • He seldom deigned to notice me; and, when he did, it was with a certain supercilious insolence of tone and manner, that convinced me he was no gentleman, though it was intended to have a contrary effect.

    Agnes Grey

  • Hence only the supercilious will be the ones who are expectantly offended.

    *SUSAN LOONE's Blog*

  • I just didn't realize how moving it was and how radical it was to have that stated so clearly in the context of the kind of supercilious cultural milieu of indie rock.

    Be specific: Chad Clark, co-producer of the Dismemberment Plan's "Emergency & I," on how the album might have been very different

  • Mr. Obama strikes Bill Kristol as some kind of "supercilious" Marxist.

    Obama's Touch of Class

  • And regarding this case, Jackson told author Ken Auletta that the court of appeals was "supercilious" and had "made up about 90 percent of the facts on their own," among other potshots.

    It's Still Alive!

  • His whole body and manner cried out that he was a president with a war to fight who didn't want to be bothered trading verbal jabs with the kind of supercilious know-it-all he had loathed since Yale days.

    TALKING THE TALK

  • He spoke with great swiftness, the words tumbling over one another, not with eagerness, but rather with a kind of supercilious carelessness.

    The Cathedral

  • One man with exactly that tone came and said, with a kind of supercilious reverence, "Is it possible that I now flash my optics upon a prophet?"

    By Common Consent, a Mormon Blog

  • But given that the Foreign Office is desperately apologising and the Vatican is now thinking of calling off the visit altogether, to call this a 'sense of humour failure' would seem to reflect precisely the kind of supercilious Foreign Office cynicism revealed by the document itself.

    Home | Mail Online

  • That kind of supercilious contempt is why the Democrats keep losing.

    MetaFilter Projects

Comments

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  • See my interesting client,
    Victim of a heartless wile!
    See the traitor all defiant
    Wear a supercilious smile!
    Sweetly smiled my client on him,
    Coyly woo'd and gently won him.

    -W.S. Gilbert, 'Trial by Jury'

    August 16, 2008

  • gr g 6 Super Jet (USA)-Silvervain(Kenvain) FOALED :28/09/02

    August 14, 2008

  • See the second Deuce Bigalow movie. This word was used suitably.

    January 22, 2008

  • supercilious: disdainful.
    superciliar: above the eyebrow.

    January 10, 2008

  • I can't hear this word without wanting to put the word "twit" after it!

    November 11, 2007

  • What I love about this word is that it derives from the Latin for "eyebrow" (or more literally, "above the eyelid"). You can almost imagine the raised eyebrow of a supercilious person. :-)

    September 30, 2007

  • "Holier than thou."

    September 30, 2007

  • From MyFavoriteWord.com:

    "I heard this word as a middle-schooler and assumed that it meant that something was supremely silly. I used it that way for years! But it means to look at someone with distain...which I'm sure many people did when I used it inappropriately! What a let-down to know that it means something so un-silly.

    Kate McLean

    September 30, 2007