Supercilious is an adjective that has been in use since the early sixteenth century. We will examine the meaning of the word supercilious, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Supercilious means contemptuous of others, haughty, disdainful, acting as if one is superior to others or believing one is superior to others. Related words are superciliously and superciliousness. The word supercilious is derived from the Latin word supercilium, which means eyebrow. The idea is that a disdainful or contemptuous person raises his eyebrow when confronting someone inferior. An example of this behavior may be found in the character Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek series, broadcast in the United States in the 1960s. Mr. Spock was well known for raising one eyebrow as a reaction to various situations.


The fact is that Adonis is the epitome of the supercilious, out-of-touch technocratic politician whose love affair with the EU and all its works has trumped everything. (The Daily Mail)

Hunter, who is only referred to by his first name, is Carter’s nemesis, a supercilious colleague who believes patients with PTSD symptoms shouldn’t be “dumped” at the already-understaffed hospital. (The National)

Sure Tomic does not deserve to be in the same tennis breath as Nadal, but when Nadal speaks of not needing a reality check after slipping in the rankings and wondering if he might get back to world number one, Tomic’s supercilious smile and glib line about counting his millions comes to mind. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

The programme has long been an old boys’ club, absolutely Westminster- and London-centric, and it ventures into many areas – science, culture, the internet, the north and, er, women – with a supercilious attitude. (The Guardian)

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