ex·cel | \ik-ˈsel \
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

While the senior team captain excelled in competitions, Mountcastle’s teaching and leadership qualities set him apart from other lifters. Steve Evans, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Palm Beach lifter of the year: Dillon Mountcastle, Park Vista senior," 20 June 2018 But Rudd really digs into the heart of Berg, an American Jewish man who has trouble fitting in, even while excelling at the national pastime. Noel Murray, latimes.com, "New video: 'Unsane' may be shot on an iPhone, but it's a slick paranoid thriller," 16 June 2018 Daniela Rus , director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, noted that artificial intelligence systems excel at deep legal research once done by skilled attorneys. Hiawatha Bray, BostonGlobe.com, "Will a robot take my job? The brains at an AI conference say humans will have plenty of work options," 4 June 2018 Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said that he's never seen a player excel in their 15th season the way James has this year. William Guillory, NOLA.com, "Can the Pelicans contain LeBron James as he continues his record-breaking pace?," 30 Mar. 2018 Calipari can take solace that UK has excelled in several tournament trips west in the past. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Calipari isn't thrilled about playing in Boise, but UK teams have won NCAA games in west," 13 Mar. 2018 The award is given annually to a college football coach whose team has excelled on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Christy Cabrera Chirinos, Sun-Sentinel.com, "UM's Mark Richt earns spot on Dodd Trophy watch list for second straight year," 11 July 2018 These days, the 76ers rookie is focusing on excelling on the perimeter – not close to the basket. Keith Pompey, Philly.com, "Patience remains key in Sixers' guard Zhaire Smith's growth," 7 July 2018 Like most skiers, she is expected to excel on the climb but her descending skills are unknown. Anchorage Daily News, "Who will win Wednesday’s Mount Marathon races? Take your pick," 4 July 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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Learn More about excel

Statistics for excel

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

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 \
excelled; excelling

Kids Definition of excel

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

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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).


one that holds something together

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