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 The final product, a cellular material that flexes, folds on itself and deflects energy away from the head, excelled in their internal tests even with higher level of forces. oregonlive, "WaveCel bursts onto the bike scene, expands into Wilsonville facility," 16 Sep. 2019 This well-trodden path has proven successful for many, the likes of Edin Dzeko and Wojciech Szczęsny excelling in their new surroundings. SI.com, "Analysing How Successful 10 Former Premier League Players Will Be After Moving to Serie A," 15 Sep. 2019 Pass rush: Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa and Dee Ford excelled, especially in crunch time. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, "49ers 31, Bucs 17: Studs and duds in a messy season opener," 8 Sep. 2019 Smith: With everything combined, this is a sport that women can excel in financially. Reena Ninan, CBS News, "USTA CEO talks female empowerment: "Tennis is one of the few sports that women get paid well in"," 7 Sep. 2019 Trinity Christian Academy is continuing to make a difference assisting its elementary school students excel in athletic settings while helping them learn and improve their skills. Alex Kushel, sun-sentinel.com, "Trinity Christian Academy elementary sports league begin this month," 5 Sep. 2019 Our answer: Yes! With good battery life, super-convenient recharging (their case is a charger!) and easy pairing to iOS devices, these excelled in the Good Housekeeping Institute Media & Tech Lab tests. Nicole Saporita, Good Housekeeping, "How Do $40 Fake AirPods Compare to the Real Thing?," 3 Sep. 2019 Folt may be weighing all this, and perhaps that the Trojans have excelled in other areas — five teams have won national championships in Swann’s tenure. New York Times, "U.S.C. and the Art of Skating on Thin Ice," 2 Sep. 2019 Her daughter, Maya, was academically gifted and excelled in college. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "Student Debt Is Transforming the American Family," 2 Sep. 2019

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

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for excel

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

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More Definitions for excel


How to pronounce excel (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for excel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with excel

Spanish Central: Translation of excel

Nglish: Translation of excel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of excel for Arabic Speakers

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).


meddlesome, informal, or unofficial

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