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Excellence vs. Excellent: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on September 17, 2023
Excellence is a noun referring to the quality of being outstanding or extremely good. Excellent is an adjective used to describe something that is superior or very good.

Key Differences

Excellence refers to the state or condition of being superior, outstanding, or highly admirable in some way. The term can be used in multiple contexts—academic, professional, artistic—to denote a high level of achievement or quality. Excellent, on the other hand, is an adjective that describes something or someone as being of exceptional quality. For instance, an "excellent performance" implies that the performance was of high quality.
The grammatical roles of excellence and excellent are quite clear. Excellence serves as a noun, and therefore, can be the subject or object in a sentence. For example, "The excellence of the painting captivated everyone." Excellent is an adjective and is used to modify nouns. For example, "She gave an excellent presentation." Thus, while excellence is a state or quality, excellent is a descriptor.
Excellence implies a sustained, consistent quality that stands out. For instance, if someone is said to have "academic excellence," it suggests that they have demonstrated high performance over a period. Excellent describes individual instances or objects as superior, but does not necessarily imply sustained quality. You might say a movie was excellent but saying it has excellence implies a broader recognition.
In sum, excellence serves to encapsulate an ongoing, lofty standard or quality in various fields or endeavors. It's a term that is often used more formally and may involve a sort of certification or recognition. Excellent, conversely, can be used more casually to describe anything that is superior, from a meal to a performance.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech


Implies Duration

Often implies a sustained quality
Describes individual instances


More formal
Can be more casual

Grammatical Role

Subject or object in a sentence
Modifies a noun


Academic, professional, artistic
Broad, can describe anything superior

Excellence and Excellent Definitions


The quality of being outstanding.
The excellence of her work was recognized with an award.


Surpassing others in some way.
He is an excellent swimmer.


High level of skill or talent.
Her excellence in singing is known throughout the town.


Being of high quality.
She wrote an excellent essay.


Consistently exceptional performance.
The team showed excellence throughout the season.


Highly commendable.
Your grades are excellent.


Something in which one excels.


Very good of its kind.
The restaurant has excellent service.


The state, quality, or condition of excelling; superiority.


Of the highest or finest quality; exceptionally good for its kind
Enjoyed an excellent meal at the restaurant.


Excellence Excellency.


(Archaic) Being so to an extreme degree.


The quality of being excellent; brilliance
John Davies was awarded for excellence in the field of computer security.


Having excelled, having surpassed.


Something in which one excels.


Of higher or the highest quality; splendid.


An excellent or valuable quality; something at which any someone excels; a virtue.


Exceptionally good of its kind.


The quality of being excellent; state of possessing good qualities in an eminent degree; exalted merit; superiority in virtue.
Consider first that greatOr bright infers not excellence.


Superior in kind or degree, irrespective of moral quality.


An excellent or valuable quality; that by which any one excels or is eminent; a virtue.
With every excellence refined.


(obsolete) Excellently.


A title of honor or respect; - more common in the form excellency.
I do greet your excellenceWith letters of commission from the king.


Excelling; surpassing others in some good quality or the sum of qualities; of great worth; eminent, in a good sense; superior; as, an excellent man, artist, citizen, husband, discourse, book, song, etc.; excellent breeding, principles, aims, action.
To love . . . What I see excellent in good or fair.


The quality of excelling; possessing good qualities in high degree


Superior in kind or degree, irrespective of moral quality; - used with words of a bad significance.
Their sorrows are most excellent.


Something in which something or some one excels;
The use of herbs is one of the excellences of French cuisine


Excellently; eminently; exceedingly.


Superiority in a particular field.
He has achieved excellence in academics.


Of the highest quality;
Made an excellent speech
The school has excellent teachers
A first-class mind


An eminent feature or attribute.
The excellence of the diamond was in its flawless cut.


Superior in some quality or action.
She has excellent problem-solving skills.


What part of speech is excellent?

Excellent is an adjective.

Is excellent used for individual instances?

Yes, it describes individual instances as being of high quality.

Can excellence be used casually?

It is generally used more formally.

What part of speech is excellence?

Excellence is a noun.

Does excellence imply duration?

Yes, it often implies sustained or consistent quality.

Is excellence a subjective term?

It can be, but it often involves some recognized standard.

Does excellent imply expertise?

No, it merely describes the quality as superior.

Can an object possess excellence?

Yes, objects like art, devices, etc., can possess excellence.

Can excellent be used formally?

Yes, but it's also suitable for casual contexts.

Does excellence imply expertise?

Often yes, especially in a specialized field.

Can a person embody excellence?

Yes, a person can embody excellence in different aspects.

Can an object be described as excellent?

Yes, any object of high quality can be described as excellent.

Can a person be described as excellent?

Yes, you can describe a person as excellent in specific qualities or skills.

Is excellent a subjective term?

It is generally subjective, based on personal judgment.

Is excellence always recognized formally?

Not always, but it often involves some form of recognition or certification.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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