ex·​cel | \ ik-ˈsel How to pronounce excel (audio) \
excelled; excelling

Definition of excel

transitive verb

: to be superior to : surpass in accomplishment or achievement

intransitive verb

: to be distinguishable by superiority : surpass others excel in sports excelled at lipreading

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Choose the Right Synonym for excel

exceed, surpass, transcend, excel, outdo, outstrip mean to go or be beyond a stated or implied limit, measure, or degree. exceed implies going beyond a limit set by authority or established by custom or by prior achievement. exceed the speed limit surpass suggests superiority in quality, merit, or skill. the book surpassed our expectations transcend implies a rising or extending notably above or beyond ordinary limits. transcended the values of their culture excel implies preeminence in achievement or quality and may suggest superiority to all others. excels in mathematics outdo applies to a bettering or exceeding what has been done before. outdid herself this time outstrip suggests surpassing in a race or competition. outstripped other firms in sales

Examples of excel in a Sentence

She excels everyone else in sports. the special effects in this new sci-fi extravaganza excel any that we've seen previously

Recent Examples on the Web

Where Zircon could really excel is as a nuclear weapon. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Russia’s New Hypersonic Missile Travels Nearly Two Miles a Second," 26 Dec. 2018 Keeping prices low Another place where wind is excelling is in contract prices. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "In 2017, four US states generated more than 30% of their electricity from wind," 27 Aug. 2018 As a child, Cameron excelled in academics and helped run the household. Hanna Krueger, NOLA.com, "'Tomorrow's not a promise': A family grapples with the loss of a 4-year-old girl and her father," 30 May 2018 Throughout the season, the Crescenta Valley High softball team excelled on defense en route to winning a second straight Pacific League championship. Charles Rich, latimes.com, "No. 2 seed Crescenta Valley softball upset in heartbreaking fashion," 23 May 2018 The Wyoming quarterback ranks poorly in nearly every area where Mayfield excels. Terry Pluto, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Browns Scribbles: Why team has faith in Baker Mayfield -- Terry Pluto (photos)," 27 Apr. 2018 The bigger problem is Kennedy himself, and this is where the film excels, thanks to Clarke’s terrific performance, which embodies several aspects of the character, sometimes all at once. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Jason Clarke is terrific as Ted Kennedy in absorbing 'Chappaquiddick'," 5 Apr. 2018 While his efforts on Capitol Hill yielded little, Trump continued to excel at fighting the culture war. Howard Kurtz, Fox News, "Behind the Hostility: How Trump and the media descended to mutual disgust," 23 July 2018 Based on the Kolmogorov School in Moscow, these schools accept only those pupils who excel in maths at exams at age 16. The Economist, "How and why to search for young Einsteins," 22 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'excel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of excel

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for excel

Middle English excellen, from Latin excellere, from ex- + -cellere to rise, project; akin to Latin collis hill — more at hill

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Statistics for excel

Last Updated

11 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for excel

The first known use of excel was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for excel



English Language Learners Definition of excel

: to be better than others
: to be or do better than (others)


ex·​cel | \ ik-ˈsel How to pronounce excel (audio) \
excelled; excelling

Kids Definition of excel

: to do better than others : surpass She excelled at running.

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More from Merriam-Webster on excel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with excel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for excel

Spanish Central: Translation of excel

Nglish: Translation of excel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of excel for Arabic Speakers

Comments on excel

What made you want to look up excel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


highly pertinent or appropriate

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