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

Tilly Grimes’s neutral-colored leisurewear, and Pat Collins’s clinical lighting intensified both the real and the surreal, and soprano Sharleen Joynt excelled as Winnie, Martha’s unhappy daughter, now forever shut out of her mother’s realm. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "Opera Philadelphia’s Festival O18 Review: Arias and Alzheimer’s," 28 Sep. 2018 After years of concerted effort and focus by teachers and students, Del Norte High’s math program has been consistently proving that its approach to helping and encouraging all students to excel is working, says Principal Greg Mizel. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Pomerado News, "Del Norte High math students meet challenge," 5 July 2018 D'Antoni added that Tomjanovich, 69, has an Olympic gold medal as a coach, excelled as a college player at Michigan and made five All-Star teams as an NBA forward with the Rockets. Brent Zwerneman, Houston Chronicle, "Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni baffled by Rudy Tomjanovich's Hall of Fame snub," 30 Mar. 2018 Even brands that excel at shimmery champagnes and peaches, like Becca—who, alongside Anastasia Beverly Hills, has cornered the market on all things glow—are welcoming the color to the stable. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "Gold Highlighter Looks Amazing on Literally Everyone," 2 Oct. 2018 The Huntington Beach coaching staff saw the makings of another Kufta that would excel at the varsity level, as Kelli Kufta became just one of two freshmen to make the varsity roster in 2015. Andrew Turner, latimes.com, "Daily Pilot Softball Dream Team: Unexpected year from Kelli Kufta kept Huntington Beach strong," 8 July 2018 McDonald is a proven goal scorer that has excelled in the NWSL. Jamie Goldberg, OregonLive.com, "Portland Thorns vs. North Carolina Courage: Players to watch, how to watch online," 29 May 2018 National ranking: 570 The U.S. News ranking system evaluated more than 20,000 schools nationwide to identify schools that excel in several areas: Their students perform better than expected on state assessments. Lori Higgins, Detroit Free Press, "U.S. News rankings show top 10 high schools in Michigan," 9 May 2018 As connoisseurs and even investors around the world have bought up stocks of Japanese whisky, Nikka and other distillers have been forced to innovate, releasing whiskies without age statements that excel in their own ways. Carey Jones, Vogue, "How Japanese Whisky Became the World’s Best," 25 Apr. 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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Learn More about excel

Statistics for excel

Last Updated

2 Mar 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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