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See also: Excel



From Middle English excellen, from Old French exceller, from Latin excellere, excelsum; ex (out) + *cellō, an unattested verb root found in culmen (height, top); Compare French exceller. See also culminate, column.


  • IPA(key): /ɪkˈsɛl/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛl


excel (third-person singular simple present excels, present participle excelling, simple past and past participle excelled)

  1. (transitive) To surpass someone or something; to be better or do better than someone or something.
    • 1936, Dale Carnegie, “Part 3, Chapter 6: THE SAFETY VALVE IN HANDLING COMPLAINTS”, in How to Win Friends and Influence People[1], page 177:
      La Rochefoucauld, the French philosopher, said: "If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you." Why is that true? Because when our friends excel us, that gives them a feeling of importance; but when we excel them, that gives them a feeling of inferiority and arouses envy and jealousy.
    I excelled everyone else with my exam results.
  2. (intransitive) To be much better than others.
    • 1924: Aristotle, Metaphysics. Translated by W. D. Ross. Nashotah, Wisconsin, USA: The Classical Library, 2001. Book 1, Part 2..
      If, then, there is something in what the poets say, and jealousy is natural to the divine power, it would probably occur in this case above all, and all who excelled in this knowledge would be unfortunate.
    • 2011 November 12, “International friendly: England 1-0 Spain”, in BBC Sport[2]:
      Lescott gave his finest England performance alongside his former Everton team-mate Phil Jagielka, who also excelled despite playing with a fractured toe, while Parker was given a deserved standing ovation when he was substituted late on.
  3. (transitive, archaic, rare) To exceed, to go beyond


Related terms[edit]