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

One oddity is a long-standing excess in one type of neutrino, first described by researchers from Los Alamos back in the 1990s. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Weird neutrino excess won’t go away, hints at new physics," 8 June 2018 As much as the ballroom looks boosted a performer’s personas through volume and excess, the rigid power suits and slicked-back hair of the show’s Wall Street characters defined the money hungry players of the decade. Melissa Magsaysay, latimes.com, "Strike a 'Pose.' Here's a look at the fashion from Ryan Murphy's FX drama," 12 July 2018 All those blowouts seem a regrettable youthful excess, like cigarettes. Jessica Berger Gross, Longreads, "Gone Gray," 10 July 2018 All the bad behavior and excess in the music business can be traced to the CD. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: YouTube Music head Lyor Cohen on Recode Media," 12 June 2018 Since being nominated to the Court by President Reagan in 1988, Kennedy served as an inconsistent but important bulwark against some of the court’s greater right-wing excesses. Jill Filipovic, Time, "America Will Lose More Than Abortion Rights If Roe v. Wade Is Overturned," 28 June 2018 Part of that is due to the occasional outbreak of excess and rowdiness by concertgoers, but the shows are noteworthy for being another summer ritual for fans. John Adamian, courant.com, "Music Festivals And Concerts Not To Miss This Week," 18 June 2018 The task for China is not just to solve the problem of past excesses, but to lay the foundations for future growth. The Economist, "China has made progress in tackling financial risks," 14 June 2018 Sommeliers in particular loved the wine, almost as an antidote to Parker’s excesses. Patrick Comiskey, latimes.com, "Why you should be drinking Gamay Noir this summer," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

With interest rates low and bank loans scarce, Wall Street has swooped into the real estate market, looking for promising places to park excess cash. Justin Davidson, Daily Intelligencer, "Downtown Nashville Is Supposed to Be the Model of the Walkable 21st-Century City. I’m Not So Sure.," 8 June 2018 Companies buy back stock as a way to use excess cash and return money to shareholders. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Walmart is paying $20 billion to shareholders. With that money, it could boost wages to over $15.," 25 May 2018 The initial financing required owners to send excess cash (money left over after debt payments and capital expenditures) to lenders if revenue from an annual power auction came in much lower than expected. Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg.com, "Private Equity’s Big Bet on Cheap Gas-Fired Plants Has Gone Awry," 23 May 2018 If using wet, run under water and gently squeeze out any excess. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "Hey, Uh, What Does This Sponge Look Like to You?," 18 Apr. 2018 Cal Fire received its Hueys in 1990, when the federal government off-loaded them as excess property. Adam Ashton, sacbee, "Cal Fire's new helicopters cost twice as much as the Legislature expected | The Sacramento Bee," 2 Apr. 2018 And then there’s the bonkers Rimac concept that also landed in New York after its Geneva debut, because what would New York be without some excess? Zac Estrada, The Verge, "Here’s what to expect at the 2018 New York Auto Show," 28 Mar. 2018 Since the food has a shelf life of only 48 hours, excess product is donated to the Costa Mesa chapter of Fristers, a charity for teenage parents. Susan Hoffman, latimes.com, "3 local couples make organic baby food a labor of Love & Puree," 14 May 2018 Stewart, who represents Council District 1 on the board, cited Lansdowne High School as an example of a school that has excess capacity but, because of the physical condition of the school, may not be the best location to send more students. Cody Boteler, baltimoresun.com, "Possible fixes for Baltimore County high school overcrowding include new construction, 'aggressively' using space," 11 July 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

10 Nov 2018

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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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).


by force of circumstances

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