1775, "of or pertaining to the writings or style of 16c. French author François Rabelais," whose writings "are distinguished by exuberance of imagination and language combined with extravagance and coarseness of humor and satire." [OED]
"unexcelled, distinguished for superior merit of any kind, of surpassing character or quality, uncommonly valuable for any reason, remarkably good," mid-14c., from Old French excellent "outstanding, excellent," from Latin excellentem (nominative excellens) "towering, prominent, distinguished, superior, surpassing," present participle of excellere "surpass, be superior; to rise, be eminent," from ex "out from" (see ex-) + -cellere "rise high, tower," related to celsus "high, lofty, great," from PIE root *kel- (2) "to be prominent; hill." Related: Excellently.
1560s, "a fight," originally especially "a fight between two armed persons" (later distinguished as single combat, 1620s), also in a general sense of "any struggle or fight between opposing forces," from French combat (see combat (v.)).