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

Universities may also face an unspoken but nonetheless deeply held attitude among some faculty that students from underrepresented groups cannot excel in science, or that the obstacles to their success are simply too large to overcome. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "A vaunted program for boosting the diversity of U.S. academic scientists is starting to spread," 24 July 2019 But a machine isn’t a brain, either Because the brain and machine learning systems use fundamentally different algorithms, each excels in ways the other fails miserably. Gabriel A. Silva, The Conversation, "Neuroscience and artificial intelligence can help improve each other," 9 July 2019 Hudson had the best performance of the four, but the two linebackers have the size, speed and motor to excel in the SEC. Josh Bean | Jbean@al.com, al.com, "9 quick takeaways from The Opening Finals recruiting showcase," 3 July 2019 In the years since, she's used the loss to fuel her ambitions, excelling in class and leading the Butler girls basketball team to a state championship. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "'We really did it': JCPS' Class of 2019 relied on teacher support to overcome challenges," 4 June 2019 One species might excel in one area but perform poorly in another and vice versa. Natasha Daly, National Geographic, "See 14 animals that have shown us their impressive smarts," 9 Sep. 2019 Fortunately, Columbia's Newton Ridge excels in both. Kelsey Mulvey, Popular Mechanics, "Columbia’s Best-Selling Hiking Boots Are Now More Affordable," 4 Sep. 2019 The Norwegians excel at making wool base layers that are durable, exceedingly comfortable, and ethically sourced. Terry Ward, Condé Nast Traveler, "Essential Clothing to Pack for a Northern Lights Trip," 3 Sep. 2019 The internet excels at matchmaking, widening my circle of potentials and forcing the articulation of specific desires. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "Angry Nerd: Let's Crush Facebook's Secret Crush," 20 Aug. 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

12 Oct 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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