ex·​cess | \ ik-ˈses, ˈek-ˌses \

Definition of excess

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : the state or an instance of surpassing usual, proper, or specified limits : superfluity
b : the amount or degree by which one thing or quantity exceeds another an excess of 10 bushels
2 : undue or immoderate indulgence : intemperance also : an act or instance of intemperance prevent excesses and abuses by newly created local powers — Albert Shanker
in excess of
: to an amount or degree beyond : over



Definition of excess (Entry 2 of 3)

: more than the usual, proper, or specified amount


excessed; excessing; excesses

Definition of excess (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

: to eliminate the position of excessed several teachers because of budget cutbacks

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Examples of excess in a Sentence


They were equipped with an excess of provisions. The tests found an excess of sodium in his blood. He lived a life of excess. The movie embraces all the worst excesses of popular American culture. the violent excesses of the military regime He apologized for his past excesses.


Basketball provided an outlet for their excess energy. She is trying to eliminate excess fat and calories from her diet.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Avangard is a winged glider weapon boosted high into the atmosphere by a ballistic missile, which then descends on its target at speeds in excess of 15,000 miles an hour. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Russia Tests Yet Another Hypersonic Weapon," 27 Dec. 2018 The potential crimes include unlawful contributions in excess of the $2,700 individual limit — a personal loan counts as a contribution, even if it is repaid. Charlie Savage, The Seattle Times, "Trump lays out a defense for potential campaign-finance crimes," 10 Dec. 2018 Working 1 at a time, stick a wooden pick into each truffle ball and spoon chocolate over it; gently tap off excess. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Snowy Cookie Truffles," 30 Nov. 2018 Use a putty knife to make sure that the compound fills the gap between the wall and the patch, and to wipe off any excess. Peter Martin, Popular Mechanics, "How to Fix a Hole in Drywall," 7 Nov. 2018 Shake off the excess and lower the crab into the hot oil. Sally Pasley Vargas, BostonGlobe.com, "Recipe: Crispy soft-shell crabs and chipotle mayo fill these po’ boy sandwiches," 18 June 2018 Dredge the fiddleheads in the remaining ¼ cup of cornstarch and shake off the excess. Sarah Fritsche, San Francisco Chronicle, "Recipe: Fiddlehead Tempura With Sriracha Creme Fraiche," 18 May 2018 Sunflower dates from 1941 and was declared excess in November 1997. Lynn Horsley, kansascity, "Next big development in JoCo? Officials say, speed up Sunflower ammo plant cleanup | The Kansas City Star," 15 May 2018 Remove chicken from the buttermilk, allowing excess to drip off. Jennifer Day, sacbee, "What’s the best fake frying method, oven or air-fryer? | The Sacramento Bee," 24 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Applying a paste made of aspirin immediately removes excess oil and dead skin. Leah Prinzivalli, Glamour, "How to Get Rid of a Pimple Fast: 12 Dos & Don'ts of Fighting Acne," 17 Jan. 2019 Newsletter Sign-up Banks make money from deposits by investing excess funds in higher-yielding safe securities such as short-term Treasurys. Paul J. Davies, WSJ, "HSBC: Asian Flavor With American Kick," 29 Oct. 2018 But finance officials typically use conservative estimates to project the next year’s tax revenue and then use the excess funds to cover the overtime pay. Luke Broadwater, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore City Council to begin monthly oversight meetings on police overtime spending, crime," 9 July 2018 Even after losing 220 lbs., Ashley Streigel wasn’t comfortable in her own body due to excess skin. Stephanie Petit, PEOPLE.com, "Woman Feels 'Confident' as She Shops for a Wedding Gown After Excess Skin Removal on Skin Tight," 13 June 2018 The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that about 20% of all cancers diagnosed in the US are related to body fatness, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, and/or poor nutrition, and thus could be prevented. Lauren Delgado, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Q&A: Healthy living with Ricky Ly of Tasty Chomps," 2 Apr. 2018 The skin flap is then stretched down and taut (think pulling taffy), a new hole is made for your belly button, and excess skin is cut away. Hallie Levine, Redbook, "Would You Get A "Mommy Tuck" ?," 14 Mar. 2011 Other acids like lactic acid and salicylic acid can have exfoliating properties that help prevent excess oil and dirt from getting trapped in the follicles, Dr. Nussbaum says. Talia Abbas, SELF, "How to Get Rid of Blackheads on Your Nose, Chin and Forehead," 28 Dec. 2018 And while there’s, justly, an uptick in interest in refreshing skin tonics during the warmer months, when an astringent can sop up excess oil to control shine and prevent breakouts, toning is just as essential when the temperatures dip . . Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "This Overlooked Beauty Product Is the Secret to Healing Dry Skin," 22 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The new study found that ovarian and rectal cancers were not linked either to excess weight or rapid weight gain among the women tracked — something of a surprise. Melissa Healy, latimes.com, "Obesity may make women more vulnerable to a host of cancers, especially if they gain weight quickly," 23 May 2018 Party buses operate in a gray area where adults are allowed to drink, and often do to excess. Lavendrick Smith And Steve Harrison, charlotteobserver, "After a party bus tragedy, California passed new rules. Will that happen in NC? | Charlotte Observer," 4 May 2018 States with below average shares of adults who drink to excess typically have lower incomes. Cheyenne Buckingham, USA TODAY, "These are America’s drunkest states," 8 Mar. 2018 Some 20% of adults drink to excess in Michigan, more than the comparable national share of 18%. Cheyenne Buckingham, USA TODAY, "These are America’s drunkest states," 8 Mar. 2018 However, when the horrors are directly presented in the second half, the play falls into a mix of bloated melodrama with Grand Guignol excesses that grow tiresome after a long three hours. Theodore P. Mahne, NOLA.com, "Early Williams' 'Not About Nightingales' a brutal work, difficult to sustain," 8 Dec. 2017 WeWork’s deal to buy a century-old department store building may add another icon to excess to the neighborhood. Justin Lahart, WSJ, "WeWork’s Lord & Taylor Deal: Savvy Move or Top of the Market?," 24 Oct. 2017 In the months before the event men live in isolation and drink to excess a mixture of cow milk and cow blood for months in order to become vastly bloated and overweight. Tim Spector, CNN, "I spent three days as a hunter-gatherer to see if it would improve my gut health," 5 July 2017 The drunkest city in America - at least according to one recent ranking - is Green Bay, Wisconsin, where a whopping 27 percent of adults reports drinking to excess in the last 30 days. Leada Gore, AL.com, "2 of the most stone-cold sober cities in America are in Alabama," 25 May 2017

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined above


1971, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for excess


Middle English, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French exces, from Late Latin excessus, from Latin, departure, projection, from excedere to exceed

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Statistics for excess

Last Updated

6 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for excess

The first known use of excess was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for excess



English Language Learners Definition of excess

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an amount that is more than the usual or necessary amount

: behavior that is considered wrong because it goes beyond what is usual, normal, or proper

excesses : actions or ways of behaving that go beyond what is usual or proper



English Language Learners Definition of excess (Entry 2 of 2)

: more than is usual, allowed, or needed


ex·​cess | \ ik-ˈses, ˈek-ˌses\

Kids Definition of excess

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a state of being more than enough Don't eat to excess.
2 : the amount by which something is or has too much



Kids Definition of excess (Entry 2 of 2)

: more than is usual or acceptable



Legal Definition of excess

: more than a usual or specified amount specifically : additional to an amount specified under another insurance policy excess coverage excess insurance

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More from Merriam-Webster on excess

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with excess

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for excess

Spanish Central: Translation of excess

Nglish: Translation of excess for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of excess for Arabic Speakers

Comments on excess

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


a complex dispute or argument

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