exceed

exceed, surpass, transcend, excel, outdo, outstrip mean to go or to be beyond a stated or implied limit, measure, or degree.
Exceed may imply an overpassing of a limit set by one's right, power, authority, or jurisdiction
{

this task exceeds his ability

}
{

he has exceeded his authority in allowing such use of our land

}
or by prescription (as in time or space)
{

they were penalized if they exceeded the allotted time by even one day

}
The term may also imply superiority in size, amount, degree, or number according to a given standard or measure
{

my wrath shall far exceed the love I ever bore— Shak.

}
{

an Inferno which exceeds anything that Dante imagined— Henry Miller

}
Surpass often replaces exceed, especially when superiority to a standard or measure is implied
{

the reality surpassed our expectations

}
When the intent is to imply superiority in quality (as in virtue, in merit, or in skill) rather than in quantity or extent, surpass is usually preferred to exceed
{

it is safe to say that in this play Middleton is surpassed by one Elizabethan alone, and that is Shakespeare— T. S. Eliot

}
{

he surpasses all others in keenness of mind

}
Transcend carries so strong an implication of rising across or above a limit or measure that, although it is sometimes used in place of exceed
{

the powers of government are limited and ... its limits are not to be transcendedJohn Marshall

}
and often in place of surpass
{

this sorrow transcending all sorrows— Hudson

}
It is the precise term to use when a higher than human or earthly limit, standard, or measure is implied
{

a point of view transcending the purely human outlook on the universe— Binyon

}
{

in the rather sloppy Socialism which pervades this document there is nothing which seems to transcend the limits of unaided human intelligence— Inge

}
In intransitive use excel implies reaching a preeminence in accomplishment or achievement
{

he excelled in the painting of miniatures

}
but in transitive use it differs little from surpass
{

love divine, all love excellingWesley

}
{

he excelled his friends in archery

}
{

during their seminary years he had easily surpassed his friend in scholarship, but he always realized that Joseph excelled him in the fervor of his faith— Cather

}
Outdo is less formal than excel or surpass, but it is often preferred when there is the intent to connote the breaking of a previously established record
{

he hath in this action outdone his former deeds doubly— Shak.

}
{

a competition in deceit in which, I admit, he outdid them— Wister

}
Outstrip is often preferred to excel or surpass when one wishes to suggest a race, a competition, or a strenuous effort to get ahead
{

he would not allow anyone to outstrip him in zeal

}
{

instead of allowing his reader the easy victory, he takes pride in outstripping him completely— Edmund Wilson

}

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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