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From Middle English exces ‎(excess, ecstasy), from Old French exces, from Latin excessus ‎(a going out, loss of self-possession), from excedere, excessum ‎(to go out, go beyond). See exceed.



excess ‎(plural excesses)

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  1. The state of surpassing or going beyond limits; the being of a measure beyond sufficiency, necessity, or duty; that which exceeds what is usual or proper; immoderateness; superfluity; superabundance; extravagance; as, an excess of provisions or of light.
    • c. 1597, William Shakespeare, King John, act 4, scene 2:
      To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
      To throw a perfume on the violet, . . .
      Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
    • c. 1690, William Walsh, "Jealosy", in The Poetical Works of William Walsh (1797), page 19 (Google preview):
      That kills me with excess of grief, this with excess of joy.
  2. The degree or amount by which one thing or number exceeds another; remainder.
    The difference between two numbers is the excess of one over the other.
  3. An undue indulgence of the appetite; transgression of proper moderation in natural gratifications; intemperance; dissipation.
    • 1611, Bible (KJV), Ephesians 5:18::
      And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess.
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book III:
      Fair Angel, thy desire . . .
      . . . leads to no excess
      That reaches blame
  4. (geometry) Spherical excess, the amount by which the sum of the three angles of a spherical triangle exceeds two right angles. The spherical excess is proportional to the area of the triangle.
  5. (Britain, insurance) A condition on an insurance policy by which the insured pays for a part of the claim.



Related terms[edit]



excess ‎(not comparable)

  1. More than is normal, necessary or specified.

Derived terms[edit]


excess ‎(third-person singular simple present excesses, present participle excessing, simple past and past participle excessed)

  1. (US, transitive) To declare (an employee) surplus to requirements, such that he or she might not be given work.
    • 2008 May 3, “When New York Teachers Don’t Teach”, New York Times:
      In 2006, I was excessed because my program had to make a few cuts and a new, inexperienced supervisor decided that he couldn’t handle a knowledgeable older teacher so he removed me.

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Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.