Superficially and arrogantly superior in attitudes and behavior.
Arrogant, haughty, pompous, condescending, snobbish, disdainful, overbearing, superior, lofty, patronizing.
Humble, modest, meek, unassuming, deferential, respectful, courteous, polite, unpretentious, unselfish.
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The new boss had a supercilious attitude towards his subordinates, rarely talking to them and often making rude remarks.
The rich businessman was supercilious towards the working-class people, thinking of himself as above them.
The supercilious attitude of the popular kids made the others feel inferior and unworthy.
Despite her lack of qualifications, the supercilious woman believed she deserved the job over the other more experienced candidates.
Supercilious is most commonly used to describe someone who behaves in a superior or arrogant manner, often looking down on others with contempt. The word itself is derived from the Latin roots super, meaning “above” or “over,” and cilium, meaning “eyebrow.” This origin is reflected in the meaning of the word, with its connotation of a raised eyebrow and a haughty attitude.
Supercilious can be used to describe speech, behavior, or attitudes. For example, someone might speak in a supercilious tone, using patronizing or condescending language to make others feel inferior. Similarly, a person might exhibit supercilious behavior by acting superior or dismissive towards others. Attitudes can also be supercilious, with a person holding themselves above others due to their perceived superiority.
The prefix super- and the root cilium can also be found in other English words. For example, superb, from the Latin superbus, meaning “arrogant” or “superior,” and cilantro, a type of herb whose seeds resemble eyelashes. These words can help to reinforce the idea of arrogance or superiority associated with supercilious.
Overall, supercilious is a useful word for describing behavior or attitudes that demonstrate arrogance or superiority. Its origins in Latin and its related English words make it a versatile term to use in a range of contexts.