The word supercilious (meaning "haughty") was first used in a 1528 book of poetic verse. It comes from Latin supercilium, which could be interpreted as "arrogance", but had an original definition of "eyebrow". The connection there is that haughty people raise their eyebrows pretentiously. Breaking it down, we can identify the prefix super-, meaning "above", and the noun cilium, meaning "eyelid". Super derives from the Proto-Indo-European roots hegs, meaning "out of", and upo, "above"; cilium, through Proto-Italic, eventually traces to Proto-Indo-European kel, "to cover". After it was popularized in the sixteenth century, supercilious has decreased in usage more than a hundred times over, now only making up about 0.000035% of words used in English writings.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.