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

This preseason all-division team is a projection on which players will excel this year. Tyler Dragon, Cincinnati.com, "NFL Preseason All-AFC North Team: Who joins A.J. Green as the division's best WR?," 12 July 2019 The league has become a pipeline for the U.S. Women’s National Team and has been vital in preparing players to excel on the world stage. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive.com, "Will support for the World Cup-winning U.S. Women’s National Team carry over to the National Women’s Soccer League?," 10 July 2019 Görges, with a potent first serve and big groundstrokes, has the power tools to excel on grass. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Serena Williams Reminds the Wimbledon Field That She Is Still a Force," 6 July 2019 While excelling on the ballfield, Bowen is also a stellar student. Ramona Sentinel, "Ramona High grad competes in Women’s College World Series," 25 June 2019 Winner: New Orleans Pelicans: New executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin continues to excel on the job. Aj Neuharth-keusch, USA TODAY, "NBA draft winners and losers: Bol Bol, New Orleans Pelicans headline list," 21 June 2019 Together, these functions enable the same vehicle to excel at high speeds, on the road, or traverse serious off-road obstacles at a crawling pace. Matthew Scott, Outside Online, "The New Defender Will Not Be Like the Old One," 7 June 2019 Dave’s expertise as a professional trombone player and music teacher for the past 38 years has given his students the tools needed to excel on their instruments. Peter Marteka, courant.com, "Glastonbury teachers who are saying goodbye at the end of the school year," 3 June 2019 But the Pixel C ran Android, which has never excelled on tablets due to a lack of optimized apps. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "Pixel Slate is Google’s new detachable Chrome OS tablet," 9 Oct. 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

20 Jul 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

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something desired as essential

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