ex·​cel | \ ik-ˈsel How to pronounce excel (audio) \
excelled; excelling

Essential Meaning of excel

1 : to be better than others
2 : to be or do better than (others) She excels everyone else in sports. (Brit) She really excelled herself [=she did much better than usual] in her last race!

Full 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

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 Women who started bands, who sing and write songs, who excel on their instruments, who make and produce records. Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 31 Oct. 2021 Women who started bands, who sing and write songs, who excel on their instruments, who make and produce records. Devon Ivie, Vulture, 31 Oct. 2021 As individuals who excel at making things happen, a change in mindset can precipitate the move to engaging in social impact initiatives that can have a positive effect on the world. Yec, Forbes, 26 Oct. 2021 But point guard is an incredibly difficult position in the NBA; there aren’t many who excel at it right away. Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 27 Sep. 2021 For the 33rd year, the Bay State Games is accepting applications for the 2021 Future Leaders Scholarship Program, which recognizes leaders of tomorrow who excel in academics, community service, and athletics. BostonGlobe.com, 29 Aug. 2021 Like Simone's aunt Amara (Kelly Jenrette) and pre-med student Keisha McCalla (Netta Walker), who excel in academics. Alamin Yohannes, EW.com, 8 July 2021 But Miami has younger and more versatile tailbacks on the roster, including Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and Malcolm Brown — who all excel at catching passes. Omar Kelly, sun-sentinel.com, 2 July 2021 There's Joshua Kimmich, who can excel as a right back or in midfield with Germany and Bayern Munich. Rob Harris, Star Tribune, 24 June 2021

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

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The first known use of excel was in the 15th century

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Statistics for excel

Last Updated

19 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Excel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excel. Accessed 28 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for excel


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on excel

Nglish: Translation of excel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of excel for Arabic Speakers


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