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 Pierce went on to excel at the University of Arizona, then making it in the NFL as a Pro Bowler and member of a Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants. Michelle Gardner, The Arizona Republic, "Community college transfer Rachaad White excels for ASU after taking long road to D-I," 5 Dec. 2020 The Lakers lost major defensive contributors Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard to free agency, but Davis and Alex Caruso are back along with the four veteran newcomers, who can all excel on both ends. Greg Beacham, Star Tribune, "Vogel: Lakers 'have to be even better' to repeat as champs," 4 Dec. 2020 This is someone who’d excel in a specialist role coming off the bench to knock down open 3-pointers. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "How Klay Thompson Achilles injury affects Warriors’ free agency plans: 10 priorities," 19 Nov. 2020 For Singh, being herself means wanting to excel at every endeavor. Leena Tailor, Glamour, "Lilly Singh, a Year After A Little Late," 11 Nov. 2020 After relying on homers for most of their run production, the Reds need more hitters who excel at making contact and more speed. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, "Nick Castellanos declines to use opt-out clause, will remain with Cincinnati Reds in 2021," 31 Oct. 2020 To quantify this complexity even for a single person would be cumbersome, but scientists can still spot those who excel at making aerosols. Fedor Kossakovski, National Geographic, "Why some people are superspreaders and how the body emits coronavirus," 27 Oct. 2020 The award recognizes public high schools that excel in preparing students for college and beyond. Ed Wittenberg, cleveland, "Orange Schools aim for return to in-person learning Nov. 2, if Cuyahoga County stays ‘red’," 25 Oct. 2020 On the other hand, gas-engine saws excel at big jobs: timber felling for lumber or firewood, storm and disaster cleanup, commercial tree removal. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Battery-Powered Chainsaws," 9 Dec. 2020

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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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 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Excel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excel. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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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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