1400-50;late Middle Englishexcellen < Latinexcellere, equivalent to ex-ex-1 + -cellere to rise high, tower (akin to celsus high)
2. outstrip, eclipse, transcend, exceed, top, beat. Excel, outdo, surpass imply being better than others or being superior in achievement. To excel is to be superior in some quality, attainment, or performance: to excel opponents at playing chess. To outdo is to make more successful effort than others: to outdo competitors in the high jump. To surpass is to go beyond others, especially in a contest as to quality or ability: to surpass one's classmates in knowledge of corporation law.
c.1400, from L. excellere "to rise, surpass, be eminent," from ex- "out from" + -cellere "rise high, tower," related to celsus "high, lofty, great," from PIE base *kel-/*kol- "to rise, be elevated" (see hill). Related: Excelled; excelling.