Synonym Chooser

How does the verb excel contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of excel are exceed, outdo, outstrip, surpass, and transcend. While all these words mean "to go or be beyond a stated or implied limit, measure, or degree," excel implies preeminence in achievement or quality and may suggest superiority to all others.

excels in mathematics

Where would exceed be a reasonable alternative to excel?

The words exceed and excel are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, exceed implies going beyond a limit set by authority or established by custom or by prior achievement.

exceed the speed limit

When is outdo a more appropriate choice than excel?

Although the words outdo and excel have much in common, outdo applies to a bettering or exceeding what has been done before.

outdid herself this time

When can outstrip be used instead of excel?

The words outstrip and excel can be used in similar contexts, but outstrip suggests surpassing in a race or competition.

outstripped other firms in sales

In what contexts can surpass take the place of excel?

The meanings of surpass and excel largely overlap; however, surpass suggests superiority in quality, merit, or skill.

the book surpassed our expectations

When is it sensible to use transcend instead of excel?

In some situations, the words transcend and excel are roughly equivalent. However, transcend implies a rising or extending notably above or beyond ordinary limits.

transcended the values of their culture

Thesaurus Entries Near excel

Cite this Entry

“Excel.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/excel. Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on excel

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!