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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 excels
  • He has placed the future of his students above his own gains with an understanding that if these kids excels he has excelled.
  • It needs to work out the details and this is what science excels at.
  • The group is more excited than ever about getting back on the road, where the six-piece outfit excels.
  • Not particularly warm on it's own in colder temperatures, but excels in aerobic activities.
  • But it excels at feeding people well, and that's nothing to take for granted.
  • And on this count the music excels by adopting the orchestral themes that worked so well with the movies.
  • Instead, it excels at following, at seeing the importance of others' breakthroughs and capitalizing on them.
  • Another excels in making the frames and covers of their little huts or moveable houses.
  • Every one excels in something in which another fails.
  • He had a flowery imagination, and excels in his descriptions and draughts.
British Dictionary definitions for excels


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 excels



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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