supercilious

as in arrogant
having a feeling of superiority that shows itself in an overbearing attitude the supercilious art dealer rolled her eyes when we asked if she had anything for under $1,000

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How does the adjective supercilious differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of supercilious are arrogant, disdainful, haughty, insolent, lordly, overbearing, and proud. While all these words mean "showing scorn for inferiors," supercilious implies a cool, patronizing haughtiness.

an aloof and supercilious manner

When could arrogant be used to replace supercilious?

The synonyms arrogant and supercilious are sometimes interchangeable, but arrogant implies a claiming for oneself of more consideration or importance than is warranted.

a conceited and arrogant executive

When would disdainful be a good substitute for supercilious?

While in some cases nearly identical to supercilious, disdainful suggests a more active and openly scornful superciliousness.

disdainful of their social inferiors

In what contexts can haughty take the place of supercilious?

The words haughty and supercilious can be used in similar contexts, but haughty suggests a consciousness of superior birth or position.

a haughty aristocrat

Where would insolent be a reasonable alternative to supercilious?

While the synonyms insolent and supercilious are close in meaning, insolent implies contemptuous haughtiness.

ignored by an insolent waiter

When is lordly a more appropriate choice than supercilious?

Although the words lordly and supercilious have much in common, lordly implies pomposity or an arrogant display of power.

a lordly condescension

When is it sensible to use overbearing instead of supercilious?

The words overbearing and supercilious are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, overbearing suggests a tyrannical manner or an intolerable insolence.

an overbearing supervisor

When might proud be a better fit than supercilious?

The meanings of proud and supercilious largely overlap; however, proud may suggest an assumed superiority or loftiness.

too proud to take charity

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Cite this Entry

“Supercilious.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/supercilious. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

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