ex·​cep·​tion·​al | \ik-ˈsep-shnəl, -shə-nᵊl\

Definition of exceptional 

1 : forming an exception : rare an exceptional number of rainy days

2 : better than average : superior exceptional skill

3 : deviating from the norm: such as

a : having above or below average intelligence

b : physically disabled

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Other Words from exceptional

exceptionality \ ik-​ˌsep-​shə-​ˈna-​lə-​tē \ noun
exceptionalness noun

Examples of exceptional in a Sentence

We're bending the rules for this exceptional situation. an exceptional student in math The seafood dishes at this restaurant are exceptional. a separate school for exceptional children
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Recent Examples on the Web

But together, this patchwork of people from different countries and cultures, different traditions and experiences, has made the United States exceptional. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "America has forgotten what it stands for. The 2026 World Cup is our chance to get things right.," 13 June 2018 We are honored to be able to support the academic pursuits of these exceptional students. Adrianne Richardson, miamiherald, "Gables High student places first in youth entrepreneurship challenge," 29 May 2018 The two awards are the top honors the school gives each year, and go to students who demonstrate exceptional contributions to Xavier’s school community and its sports programs. Shawn R. Beals, Courant Community, "Xavier High School's Graduation Closes Stellar Year For Class Of 2018," 20 May 2018 His exceptional contributions to science and to our nation are an inspiration to future generations of scientists, and to Boilermakers everywhere. Nate Chute, Indianapolis Star, "At Purdue graduation, a NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station will get a degree," 11 May 2018 An exceptional student, Bates manages her time wisely and teaches basketball to younger players. baltimoresun.com, "Mervo's Jamar Mackell, Eastern Tech's Natalie Bates win McCormick Unsung Hero scholarships," 8 May 2018 Child, who has penned more than 80 Top 40 hits, follows such past recipients as Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Carly Simon, Burt Bacharach, Tom Petty and Stevie Wonder, all of whom were chosen for their exceptional contributions to music. Melinda Newman, Billboard, "ASCAP Founders Award Recipient Desmond Child on His Career and the Song He Begged Jon Bon Jovi to Record," 23 Apr. 2018 Stoneman Douglas alumni are also working to make the prom exceptional. Lois K. Solomon, latimes.com, "Marjory Stoneman Douglas High plans 'over the top' prom for survivors of mass shooting," 15 Apr. 2018 Stoneman Douglas alumni are also working to make the prom exceptional. Lois K. Solomon, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Stoneman Douglas prom plans: An 'over the top' party with touching tribute," 13 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'exceptional.' 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 exceptional

1787, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for exceptional

Last Updated

5 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for exceptional

The first known use of exceptional was in 1787

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More Definitions for exceptional



English Language Learners Definition of exceptional

: not usual : unusual or uncommon

: unusually good : much better than average

: mentally or physically disabled


ex·​cep·​tion·​al | \ik-ˈsep-shə-nᵊl \

Kids Definition of exceptional

1 : being unusual an exceptional amount of rain

2 : better than average : superior

Other Words from exceptional

exceptionally adverb

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Comments on exceptional

What made you want to look up exceptional? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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