haugh·​ty ˈhȯ-tē How to pronounce haughty (audio)
haughtier; haughtiest
: blatantly and disdainfully proud : having or showing an attitude of superiority and contempt for people or things perceived to be inferior
haughty aristocrats
haughty young beauty … never deigned to notice us Herman Melville
haughtily adverb
haughtiness noun

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The Connotations of Haughty

Someone who is haughty looks down on others—and that position high above everyone else is present in the word's etymology. Haughty traces back to the Anglo-French halt or haut, which means literally "high."

The word has strong negative connotations. Someone who is described as "haughty" is proud in the worst way. This is not the pride a parent feels for a child who's worked hard at something, and it's not the pride a marathoner feels for completing a race. The word haughty communicates a kind of pride that is obviously full of contempt for others deemed inferior or unworthy.

The word is not applied only to people. Haughty often modifies nouns like glare, look, appearance, and attitude.

Choose the Right Synonym for haughty

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

Example Sentences

He rejected their offer with a tone of haughty disdain. the haughty waiter smirked when I remarked that it was odd that a French restaurant didn't even have french fries on the menu
Recent Examples on the Web Her Beatrice is rich, spoiled and haughty, but has a weird love for Burt (heightened by his scars in a weird kink). Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 5 Oct. 2022 While Thoreau could be haughty and hortatory, Ms. Shetterly, like one of her other literary heroes, E.B. White, strikes a more measured tone. Danny Heitman, WSJ, 15 Sep. 2022 At 22 years old, Lansbury already played the spiteful 35-year-old wife of Walter Pidgeon in If Winter Comes and a haughty 45-year-old publisher in State of the Union. Shafiq Najib, Peoplemag, 12 Oct. 2022 There’s also a friendless software creator (Henrik Dorsin) and a haughty woman (Mia Benson) who insists that the ship’s sails need washing. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 6 Oct. 2022 But the slightly malicious look—haughty, selfish, bitterly amused—of upper-class women has survived. Mavis Gallant, The New Yorker, 14 Aug. 2022 Read full article Christian Dior (Philippe Bertin) appears briefly, but his business is primarily represented by a haughty, mean, and very French Isabelle Huppert. Odie Henderson, BostonGlobe.com, 12 July 2022 Uncoupled also stars Tuc Watkins as Michael's ex-boyfriend Colin, Tisha Campbell as his bestie Suzanne, and Marcia Gay Harden as one of Michael's haughty clients, who's also going through a breakup. Sara Netzley, EW.com, 28 July 2022 Only a fool would turn down the opportunity to watch haughty penguins refuse fish offered to them by beleaguered zookeepers, but the endless explaining was exhausting. Ky Henderson, Rolling Stone, 25 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'haughty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


obsolete haught, from Middle English haute, from Anglo-French halt, haut, literally, high, from Latin altus — more at old

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of haughty was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near haughty

Cite this Entry

“Haughty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/haughty. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



haugh·​ty ˈhȯt-ē How to pronounce haughty (audio)
haughtier; haughtiest
: rudely proud in a manner that expresses scorn for others : arrogant
ˈhȯt-ə-lē How to pronounce haughty (audio)
haughtiness noun

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