• synonyms


See more synonyms for exceptional on Thesaurus.com
  1. forming an exception or rare instance; unusual; extraordinary: The warm weather was exceptional for January.
  2. unusually excellent; superior: an exceptional violinist.
  3. Education. (of a child)
    1. being intellectually gifted.
    2. being physically or especially mentally disabled to an extent that special schooling is required.
Show More

Origin of exceptional

First recorded in 1840–50; exception + -al1
Related formsex·cep·tion·al·i·ty, nounex·cep·tion·al·ly, adverbex·cep·tion·al·ness, nounnon·ex·cep·tion·al, adjectivenon·ex·cep·tion·al·ly, adverbpre·ex·cep·tion·al, adjectivepre·ex·cep·tion·al·ly, adverbqua·si-ex·cep·tion·al, adjectivequa·si-ex·cep·tion·al·ly, adverbsu·per·ex·cep·tion·al, adjectivesu·per·ex·cep·tion·al·ly, adverb
Can be confusedexceptionable exceptional


See more synonyms for exceptional on Thesaurus.com
1. uncommon, singular, strange, unnatural, aberrant, anomalous. See irregular.


2. average.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for exceptional

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Every year he adds some fresh decoration, some new and exceptional scene.

  • Of course there's a horde of applicants, but you're exceptional; you know that.

  • His next move proved that his cunning was of an exceptional order.


    W. A. Fraser

  • But then he is an exceptional and note-worthy man--one among ten thousand.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • What had any of these people done that was noble, exceptional, distinguished?

British Dictionary definitions for exceptional


  1. forming an exception; not ordinary
  2. having much more than average intelligence, ability, or skill
Show More
Derived Formsexceptionally, adverb
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

Word Origin and History for exceptional

1846, from exception + -al (1). Related: exceptionally.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper