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

Apple has traditionally excelled at hardware and software integration. Tom Warren, The Verge, "The foldable phones are coming," 8 Nov. 2018 Dee Gordon has excelled defensively at second base in Cano's absence after moving back to his old position from center field. Curtis Crabtree, chicagotribune.com, "Robinson Cano apolgizes to fans, Mariners for 80-game suspension," 7 July 2018 With more playing time, Hughes has excelled in Buffalo. Stefan Stevenson, star-telegram, "TCU Power Index: Jerry Hughes has been on leading edge for two winning teams," 18 June 2018 Spanish clubs have long excelled at this, by endlessly practising the rondo: a close-quarters version of piggy-in-the-middle. The Economist, "What makes a country good at football?," 9 June 2018 And the Boomers, as seen in the very label classic applying to the soundtrack of their primes, have excelled at overlaying the mantle of myth on stories whose ink was still drying. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Was Classic Rock a Sound, or a Tribe?," 28 May 2018 Cashner has long excelled against the Phillies, going 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 13 career head-to-head appearances (seven starts). Josh Land, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles on deck: What to watch Tuesday vs. Phillies, plus lineups, broadcast info and more," 15 May 2018 On any other team, given a chance (no guarantee there, considering his odd skill-set and personality), Green would have excelled. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, "The Warriors, looking beyond the moment to the greatness that awaits," 13 May 2018 Even without Knebel and Logan, the Brewers' bullpen has excelled. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Left-hander Boone Logan activated from DL; Jorge Lopez returned to Colorado Springs," 10 May 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

7 Dec 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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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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