June 06, 2017
supercilious (noun)
\soo-pur-SIL-ee-us\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: coolly and patronizingly haughty
How do you use it?
Brendan's friends were put off by the supercilious attitude he took after learning his family was descended from royalty.
Are you a word wiz?

We owe our word "supercilious" to the Latin word for a part of the body. What part of the body do you think is behind the idea of "supercilious"?

If you've ever been on the receiving end of disapprovingly raised eyebrows, you'll have no trouble understanding the origin of "supercilious." The Latin word for "eyebrow" was "supercilium," formed from "super-" ("above, over") and "cilium" ("eyelid"). The raising of the eyebrows to express an attitude of arrogant disapproval was evidently as well-known in ancient times as now--Latin "supercilium" was also used figuratively to mean "disdainful superiority." The Latin adjective form was "superciliousus," which was adopted in English as "supercilious" in the 16th century.
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