The Meaning of Excel: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of excel? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word excel, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word excel mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary, the word excel means to have an achievement or to do very well at something. This verb is used frequently in the English language. Excel has two syllables – ex-cel – and one can add suffixes like ling to make the related forms excelling and others.

There is also a spreadsheet application software program called Microsoft Excel. This allows you to create computer projects which can contain cell references, keyboard shortcuts, use the formula bar and platforms for syntax, pivot tables. This industry standard software is part of the Microsoft Office suite of software  and allows for various numerical methods of calculation such as averages, line graphs, or an array of numbers. For example, one could add an A1 cell to A3 and have the final number populate in A2. Microsoft’s visual basic writing code also allows you to multiply cell C2 by B2 and many other various factors. It utilizes a macro programming language and meets criteria set by the industry standard making it a  typical value for computer products.

Many different languages worldwide also contain words that mean excel. You may notice in this list of translations of excel from Word Sense that many of these words look and sound similar to one another. These are called cognates, which are formed when two words have the same language of origin or root. Learning translations is very useful if you are going to be traveling or communicating with someone from another country. 

  •  Portuguese: distinguir-se‎
  •  Hebrew: הצטיין‎ (hitztayén)
  •  Swedish: excellera‎, briljera‎, glänsa‎, stila‎
  •  Czech: vynikat‎
  •  Catalan: excel·lir‎
  •  Spanish: sobresalir‎, distinguirse‎
  •  Japanese: 超える‎ (こえる, koeru), 越える‎ (こえる, koeru)
  •  Hungarian: kimagaslik‎, kiemelkedik‎, jeleskedik‎, kitűnik‎
  •  Estonian: hiilgama‎
  •  Ido: ecelar‎
  •  German: sich hervortun
  •  Italian: superare‎
  •  French: dépasser‎
  •  Russian: выделя́ться‎
  •  Bulgarian: отличавам се‎
  •  Finnish: loistaa‎, olla erittäin hyvä
  •  Dutch: uitblinken‎
  •  Esperanto: superi‎
  •  Mandarin: 擅長‎, 擅长‎ (shàncháng)

What is the origin of the word excel?

According to Etymonline, the word excel has been used since the year 1400 Middle English to mean to surpass or be superior to. This comes from the Latin excellere, from the roots ex and cellere, related to excelsum. These roots are related to celsus and culmen height which come from the Indo-European roots kel. 

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word excel?

There are a number of different words that a person could choose to use in place of the word excel. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another word or phrase. Learning synonyms is a great way to expand your English language vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself when writing or speaking. This list of synonyms for the word excel is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  improve on
  •  win the race
  •  outreach
  •  steal the show
  •  exceed
  •  outpace
  •  outmatch
  •  be outstanding
  •  outgun
  •  be preeminent
  •  shined
  •  outrival
  •  surpassed
  •  outmaneuver
  •  overtop
  •  be skillful
  •  outbalance
  •  improve upon
  •  tower above
  •  surpass
  •  be successful
  •  leave behind
  •  shine
  •  overpass
  •  be the best
  •  outclassed
  •  top
  •  cob
  •  transcend
  •  go one better
  •  be superior
  •  be excellent
  •  have a jump on
  •  stand out
  •  surpassing
  •  overshadow
  •  pass
  •  go above
  •  do better than
  •  outperform
  •  be ahead
  •  outsmart
  •  preponderate
  •  be talented
  •  outvie
  •  be pre-eminent
  •  leave standing
  •  be unsurpassed
  •  trump
  •  outhussle
  •  best
  •  be master of
  •  conquer
  •  be greater than
  •  be unparalleled
  •  go beyond
  •  get upper hand
  •  have it all over
  •  outshine
  •  be first
  •  shinning
  •  overstep
  •  out-distance
  •  lead
  •  outdistance
  •  shines
  •  be brilliant
  •  overcome
  •  outranked
  •  be second to none
  •  reign supreme
  •  be superior to
  •  be a cut above
  •  outstrip
  •  be unequaled
  •  have advantage
  •  surpasses
  •  standout
  •  shone
  •  cap
  •  beat
  •  rise above
  •  cream
  •  outclass
  •  predominate
  •  overtake
  •  surmount
  •  protrude
  •  prevail
  •  eclipse
  •  outrank
  •  get ahead of
  •  beat hollow
  •  bettered
  •  outrace
  •  outbid
  •  outdo
  •  better
  •  outrun
  •  outweigh

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of excel. These are called antonyms, which are another quick and easy way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms of excel is also provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  disappoint
  •  tread on the heels of
  •  recede
  •  tag
  •  go after
  •  dog
  •  lose
  •  rails
  •  come behind
  •  fall flat
  •  run after
  •  make things worse
  •  weaken
  •  be less important
  •  gonna make things worse
  •  get nowhere
  •  underachieve
  •  underperform
  •  fail
  •  go wrong
  •  hunt
  •  be in a weaker position
  •  come after
  •  forsake
  •  fall behind
  •  miscarry
  •  play a minor role
  •  slog
  •  leash
  •  have a less important position
  •  train
  •  come last
  •  dismiss
  •  deteriorate
  •  follow
  •  run
  •  tail
  •  hound
  •  shadow
  •  play second fiddle
  •  quit
  •  gonna make it worse
  •  walk behind
  •  add to the problem
  •  flunk
  •  play a secondary role
  •  pathway
  •  play second banana
  •  fizzle
  •  course
  •  stalk
  •  go behind
  •  omit
  •  wind
  •  falsify
  •  be unsuccessful
  •  pursue
  •  trail
  •  trace
  •  chase
  •  track
  •  bird-dog
  •  come in last
  •  go down in flames
  •  fall down
  •  way

How can the word excel be used in a sentence?

There are many different ways that a person could choose to use the word excel in an English language sentence. Using words in the sentence is a great way to memorize their definitions. You could also try making flashcards or quizzes with the definitions of different words. Try using this word of the day in the sentence today. Below are a few examples of the word excel to get you started.

Lotus excelled at tennis and chess, and she was always practicing a drill. Her  classmates could not form an understanding of how she could succeed in everything, even exam results.

Poets of his day found frustration in their repetitive jobs while he excelled at writing with no training.

They replaced their average toaster oven with the excelling and best toaster oven, a compact option that could  save counter space which was perfect for their auxiliary kitchens, RVs outlet, and small apartment kitchens.

The drill and impact driver, brushless motors, and tight spaces made it no contest – the traditional alternatives could not compete with the best mechanical keyboard made by the video game studio and Swiss company which was the leading manufacturer of affordable mechanical keyboards.

Overall, the word excel means to achieve or be better than. This word is Latin in origin.


  1. Excel definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  2. excel: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  3. excel | Origin and meaning of excel | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  4. Excel synonyms – 753 Words and Phrases for Excel | Power Thesaurus 
  5. Excel antonyms – 66 Opposites of Excel | Power Thesaurus