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[ik-sel-see-er, ek-] /ɪkˈsɛl si ər, ɛk-/
fine wood shavings, used for stuffing, packing, etc.
Printing. a 3-point type: a size smaller than brilliant.
Origin of excelsior1
An Americanism dating back to 1770-80; formerly a trademark


[ek-sel-si-ohr; English ik-sel-see-awr, ek-] /ɛkˈsɛl sɪˌoʊr; English ɪkˈsɛl siˌɔr, ɛk-/
adjective, Latin.
ever upward: motto of New York State. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for excelsior
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He started to his feet as the priest, whom he had seen on the deck of the excelsior, entered the church from the refectory.

  • As if the excelsior wouldn't have gone into Mazatlan if it had been her!

  • Joe knew that before he picked out excelsior Hall as his particular boarding school.

  • Well, you see, she had an idea that a former husband was on board of the excelsior.

  • Others shout, "excelsior," and make off at once for the upper snow fields.

    Steep Trails John Muir
  • In his hand was clutched a flag with the word "excelsior" printed on it.

    Something Else Again Franklin P. Adams
  • The spiral columns of translucent alabaster which support the altar, are padded with excelsior and wrapped with canvas.

  • I heard her reciting Longfellow's excelsior; and such reading, and such gestures!

  • Small trees have so much sap or white wood that they are not sought for lumber, but can be used for pulp and excelsior.

    Trees of Indiana Charles Clemon Deam
British Dictionary definitions for excelsior


interjection, adverb, noun
excellent: used as a motto and as a trademark for various products, esp in the US for fine wood shavings used for packing breakable objects
Word Origin
C19: from Latin: higher
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for excelsior

Latin excelsior "higher," comp. of excelsus (adj.) "high, elevated, lofty," past participle of excellere (see excel), taken 1778 as motto of New York State, where it apparently was mistaken for an adverb. Popularized 1841 as title of a poem by Longfellow. As a trade name for "thin shavings of soft wood used for stuffing cushions, etc.," first recorded 1868, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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