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excelsior 

Latin excelsior "higher," comparative of excelsus (adj.) "high, elevated, lofty," past participle of excellere "to rise, surpass, be superior, 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." 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.

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*kel- (2)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to be prominent," also "hill."

It forms all or part of: colonel; colonnade; colophon; column; culminate; culmination; excel; excellence; excellent; excelsior; hill; holm.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit kutam "top, skull;" Latin collis "hill," columna "projecting object," cellere "raise;" Greek kolōnos "hill," kolophōn "summit;" Lithuanian kalnas "mountain," kalnelis "hill," kelti "raise;" Old English hyll "hill," Old Norse hallr "stone," Gothic hallus "rock."

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