A compound of the words high + brow, first recorded usage in 1875. Referring to the (by that time discredited) science of phrenology, which suggested that a person of intelligence and sophistication would possess a higher brow-line than someone of lesser intelligence and sophistication.
highbrow (plural highbrows)
- ESC, 2003. Re:highbrow, middlebrow, lowbrow, The Phrase finder.
- Robert Hendrickson, 1997. Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins (New York: Facts on File)