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

Have you ever heard the word excelsior? This article explain this rare word and how to use it. Keep reading for more on the meaning of excelsior!

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Excelsior is an uncommon word you may not have heard before in everyday life. This article will teach you the various definitions of excelsior, the origin of the word, and more. Read on to learn how to use excelsior in a sentence, synonyms, and translations of the word excelsior. 

What Does Excelsior Mean?

According to Dictionary, the word excelsior has a few different meanings. As a noun, the word excelsior refers to wood shavings used for packing material and shipping material. This word is also used in the printing industry to refer to three-point type. The pronunciation of excelsior is ɪkˈsɛl si ər, and excelsior is four syllables: ex-cel-si-or.

Additionally, excelsior is a Latin word meaning “ever upward” or “loftier.” This adverb comparative of excelsus is the motto of New York State. It can be seen on the New York state seal and coat of arms. 

Stan Lee — famous for building Marvel Comics — used excelsior as an interjection for his catchphrase and sign-off. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow also used this in one of his poems.

How Can Excelsior Be Used in a Sentence?

It is quite rare that you would see the word excelsior used in a sentence, but it is important to know how to determine which definition of excelsior is used depending on the context. As you study the below examples of excelsior, see if you can determine which definition this word of the day is taking on.

Example #1: A Social Media Success

Today, I reached 1 million followers on social media. When the numbers flipped from 999,999 to 1 million, I shouted, “Excelsior!” Then, I used the word excelsior in my celebratory caption.

Question: Which definition of excelsior is used in the above sentence?

Answer: In the above sentence, excelsior is the original Latin definition, an interjection for “upward!”

Example #2: Mailing a Special Package

We used excelsior as stuffing material to ensure that we protected the priceless heirloom in transit.

Question: Which definition of excelsior is used in the above sentence?

Answer: In the above sentence, excelsior is used as a noun to refer to packing or shipping material made of fine wood shavings.

Example #3: Printing a New Piece

The book printer decided to use the excelsior size type for the book so that they could fit many words onto the small pocket-sized dictionary of the English language.

Question: Which definition of excelsior is used in the above sentence?

Answer: In the above sentence, excelsior is used as a noun to refer to a three-point type size.

What Is the Etymology of Excelsior?

Dictionary states that the word excelsior comes directly from the Latin excelsior, an adjective that means higher or more elevated. This Latin adjective takes root in the Lain excellere, giving us English words like the word excel.

When you know the roots of different words, it can help you infer meaning. For example, many words share roots in Latin or Greek. These prefixes, roots, and suffixes retain their meaning across words. If you know the meaning of a word’s prefix, root, and suffix, you can infer what it means. 

What Are Translations of Excelsior?

Excelsior is a Latin word for upward. In English, people simply use the Latin word instead of a translation. If you use this Latin word in another country that does not speak English, people might not know what you mean. Instead, you can opt to use a translation of the word upward. 

Nice Translator provides numerous different translations of the word upward in many different languages. So if you’re going to be traveling to a foreign country and need to use the word upward, you can reference this list. 

  • Urdu: اضافہ
  • Greek: προς τα άνω
  • Japanese: 上向きに
  • Gujarati: ઉપર તરફ
  • Latvian: uz augšu
  • Polish: w górę
  • Basque: goran
  • Marathi: ऊर्ध्वगामी
  • Hungarian: emelkedő
  • Ukrainian: вгору
  • Lithuanian: aukštyn
  • Swedish: uppåt
  • Danish: opadgående
  • Czech: nahoru
  • Catalan: cap amunt
  • French: vers le haut
  • Vietnamese: hướng lên
  • Slovenian: navzgor
  • Turkish: yukarı
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 向上
  • German: nach oben
  • Russian: вверх
  • Korean: 상승
  • Finnish: ylöspäin
  • Slovak: vzostupný
  • Welsh: i fyny
  • Hebrew: למעלה
  • Malayalam: മുകളിലേക്ക്
  • Serbian: према горе
  • Italian: in su
  • Amharic: ወደ ላይ
  • Indonesian: ke atas
  • Swahili: juu
  • Romanian: în sus
  • Croatian: prema gore
  • Tamil: மேல்நோக்கி
  • Hindi: ऊपर की ओर
  • Bulgarian: нагоре
  • Filipino: pataas
  • Malay: ke atas
  • Arabic: صعودا
  • Bengali: উর্ধ্বগামী
  • Chinese (PRC): 向上
  • Portuguese (Brazil): para cima
  • Icelandic: upp
  • Telugu: పైకి
  • Kannada: ಮೇಲ್ಮುಖವಾಗಿ
  • Thai: ขึ้นไป
  • Estonian: ülespoole
  • Spanish: hacia arriba
  • Norwegian: oppover
  • Portuguese (Portugal): para cima
  • Dutch: opwaarts

What Are Synonyms of Excelsior?

Excelsior is a rare word with several meanings. You will likely have trouble finding a context where it’s appropriate to use the word excelsior, so you should make sure that you know numerous synonyms for this special word. 

Power Thesaurus provides many different words that you can use in place of the word excelsior, depending on the context. Take a look at these synonyms of excelsior and see how many you already know!

  • chaff
  • ever upward
  • excellence
  • excellent
  • finger
  • fraxinus
  • grass
  • great
  • litter
  • mulch
  • package
  • rising
  • still higher
  • straw
  • supernatant
  • swarf
  • wood shavings
  • wood wool
  • wood-wool


The definition of excelsior is varied. It can mean any of the below:

  1. Excelsior can be used as a noun to refer to fine wood shavings used for packing and shipping materials.
  2. The word excelsior refers to a 3-point type size in the printing industry.
  3. The word excelsior is used for its original Latin meaning, “ever upward.”

Now that you know all about this awesome word, try using it in a sentence today!


  1. Excelsior Definition & Meaning |
  2. Excelsior synonyms – 19 Words and Phrases for Excelsior | Power Thesaurus  
  3. Upward | Nice Translator