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[ik-sel] /ɪkˈsɛl/
verb (used without object), excelled, excelling.
to surpass others or be superior in some respect or area; do extremely well:
to excel in math.
verb (used with object), excelled, excelling.
to surpass; be superior to; outdo:
He excels all other poets of his day.
Origin of excel
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English excellen < Latin excellere, equivalent to ex- ex-1 + -cellere to rise high, tower (akin to celsus high)
Related forms
unexcelled, adjective
unexcelling, adjective
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for excelling
  • excelling at any sport requires physical and mental discipline.
  • excelling at one form of memory, however, may inhibit another.
  • He read ravenously and widely, excelling in every field from drama and history to biology and mathematics.
  • We are preventing gifted students from excelling by holding them back with useless tests.
  • They have done this by excelling in areas that demand constant, incremental innovation.
  • There are other aspects to life besides excelling in things for which there are medals or grades.
  • As the season progresses, top prospects who are excelling are earning well-deserved promotions.
  • Flexibility is a major part of excelling in gymnastics and usually is only obtained with lots of stretching.
  • Carp are a supreme fly-rod challenge equal to or excelling trout or bone fish according to many fly fishing magazines.
  • Strategically placing children in partnerships can have positive effects for both excelling and struggling readers.
British Dictionary definitions for excelling


verb -cels, -celling, -celled
to be superior to (another or others); surpass
(intransitive; foll by in or at) to be outstandingly good or proficient: he excels at tennis
Word Origin
C15: from Latin excellere to rise up
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for excelling



c.1400, from Latin excellere "to rise, surpass, be eminent," from ex- "out from" (see ex-) + -cellere "rise high, tower," related to celsus "high, lofty, great," from PIE root *kel- "to rise, be elevated" (see hill). Related: Excelled; excelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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