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 By taking cues from nature and optimizing the technology foundation, automating business processes and adopting an agile operating model, businesses can go beyond business continuity to excel in an ever-changing world. Brian Humphries, Forbes, "Building Resilience In A Black Swan World," 4 May 2021 Our task was to excel in school, and to be respected and recognized through our work and our behavior. Natasha Chen, CNN, "After a watershed moment of violence, Asian Americans begin to speak out," 1 May 2021 Meanwhile, his girls continued to excel, also, winning 14 sectionals and eight county championships. Ben Thomas | Bthomas@al.com, al, "See the newest inductees into the Alabama High School Hall of Fame," 14 Mar. 2021 Their mother, Melody Bell, a former schoolteacher, had pushed her two boys to excel in school and the arts. Cassandra Jaramillo, Dallas News, "How safe is our city? Dallas crime picture mixed despite recent uptick," 25 Apr. 2021 Mitchell managed to not only hold her own but to excel in any environment. Akeem Glaspie, The Indianapolis Star, "How Indiana Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell developed into one of the best scorers in the WNBA," 24 Apr. 2021 Las Vegas needs someone who can be dominant on the outside, and that might be Kwity Paye, who, despite his unremarkable stats at Michigan, has the frame, athleticism and pass-rush moves to excel in Gus Bradley’s system. Brett Knight, Forbes, "NFL Mock Draft 2021: Breaking Down The Quarterback Logjam After Trevor Lawrence," 21 Apr. 2021 School leaders have said remote learning will continue to be an option next school year, and some have explored the possibility of opening virtual academies for students who prefer and excel in the remote format. Andres Picon, San Antonio Express-News, "'Education has changed forever' - COVID upended K-12 schooling, and there's no going back," 15 Apr. 2021 Since arriving in America, Kwity, along with his brother Komotay Koffie, strived to excel in football. Tribune Content Agency Staff, chicagotribune.com, "NFL draft profile: Kwity Paye of Michigan," 8 Apr. 2021

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

Time Traveler for excel

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for excel

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Excel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excel. Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on excel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for excel

Nglish: Translation of excel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of excel for Arabic Speakers

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