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supercilious

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adjective su·per·cil·ious \ˌsü-pər-ˈsi-lē-əs, -ˈsil-yəs\

Simple Definition of supercilious

  • : having or showing the proud and unpleasant attitude of people who think that they are better or more important than other people

Full Definition of supercilious

  1. :  coolly and patronizingly haughty <reacted to their breach of etiquette with a supercilious smile>

su·per·cil·ious·ly adverb
su·per·cil·ious·ness noun

Examples of supercilious

  1. While Americans did congregate together at baseball games, … amusement parks, dance halls and arcades, tensions still roiled. The middle class may not have been as supercilious as the elites it replaced, but middle-class reformers were every bit as strident as those elites in condemning … working-class entertainments, and for the same reason: These entertainments constituted a challenge to the class's social control. —Neal Gabler, Life: The Movie, 1998

  2. Cross' popular academic sleuth Kate Fansler returns, this time as a guest professor at the down-at-the-heels Schuyler Law School, where she has been asked to teach a course on literature and the law. Ardent feminist Kate soon finds that not only is Schuyler a bastion of intolerant, supercilious white males, but worse, any attempt by women or minorities to be heard is quickly quashed by the old-boy network. —Emily Melton, Booklist, 15 Dec. 1994

  3. Jorgeson had a sharp tongue and was so supercilious in his remarks that I didn't know quite how seriously I should take this talk, but I enjoyed his humor and I did believe he had the sensibilities of an artist. —Thom Jones, New Yorker, 2 Dec. 1991

  4. <the supercilious art dealer rolled her eyes when we asked if she had anything for under $1,000>



Origin of supercilious

Latin superciliosus, from supercilium eyebrow, haughtiness, from super- + -cilium eyelid (akin to celare to hide) — more at hell


First Known Use: 1614

Synonym Discussion of supercilious

proud, arrogant, haughty, lordly, insolent, overbearing, supercilious, disdainful mean showing scorn for inferiors. proud may suggest an assumed superiority or loftiness <too proud to take charity>. arrogant implies a claiming for oneself of more consideration or importance than is warranted <a conceited and arrogant executive>. haughty suggests a consciousness of superior birth or position <a haughty aristocrat>. lordly implies pomposity or an arrogant display of power <a lordly condescension>. insolent implies contemptuous haughtiness <ignored by an insolent waiter>. overbearing suggests a tyrannical manner or an intolerable insolence <an overbearing supervisor>. supercilious implies a cool, patronizing haughtiness <an aloof and supercilious manner>. disdainful suggests a more active and openly scornful superciliousness <disdainful of their social inferiors>.


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