Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To do or be better than; surpass.
  • intransitive v. To show superiority; surpass others.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To surpass someone or something; to be better or do better than someone or something.
  • v. To be much better than others.
  • v. To exceed, to go beyond

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To surpass others in good qualities, laudable actions, or acquirements; to be distinguished by superiority.
  • transitive v. To go beyond or surpass in good qualities or laudable deeds; to outdo or outgo, in a good sense.
  • transitive v. To exceed or go beyond; to surpass.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To surpass in respect to something; be superior to; outdo in comparison; transcend, usually in something good or commendable, but sometimes in that which is bad or indifferent.
  • To exceed or be beyond.
  • To have certain qualities, or to perform certain actions, in an unusual degree; be remarkable, distinguished, or eminent for superiority in any respect; surpass others.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. distinguish oneself

Etymologies

Middle English excellen, from Latin excellere; see kel-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin excellere, excelsum; ex out + a root found in culmen height, top; Compare French exceller. See also culminate, column. (Wiktionary)

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