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

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 For the teenagers who don’t manage to excel at academics, despite their obvious intelligence and wit, the years ahead may not just be unpromising, but a virtual and never-ending prison. Charles Isherwood, WSJ, 19 May 2022 McPherson went on to excel for the Bengals, making all 20 of his kicks during their Super Bowl campaign -- 6-for-6 on extra points and 14-for-14 on field goals. cleveland, 11 May 2022 Mylene Keophaseut listed the simplest reason for longing to excel at badminton. Don Norcross & Steve Brand, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 May 2022 That’s alright — no one is expected to naturally excel at everything. Erik Sussman, Sun Sentinel, 14 Apr. 2022 While both excel as weekend warriors, their varying appeal in day-to-day use quickly became apparent. Mike Sutton, Car and Driver, 26 Nov. 2021 While some employees excel in handling returns and exchanges, others might perform best when dealing with upset customers. Merijn Te Booij, Forbes, 5 Oct. 2021 Hailing from a small island nation with limited resources and an abundance of artistic expression, Japanese innovators excel at miniaturization, from the Walkman that paved the way for the iPod to semiconductors and transistors. Jay Kulkarni, Forbes, 22 Apr. 2022 These machines excel at hauling a great number of people, and their things, over a wide variety of terrain. Nicholas Wallace, Car and Driver, 29 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for excel

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

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Statistics for excel

Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Excel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excel. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for excel


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

Nglish: Translation of excel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of excel for Arabic Speakers


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