In this morning’s NYT, a story “In Schools Cut by the City Ax, Students Bled”, with the following quote:

“They say the school is shrinking, and the social worker was excessed,” he said.

That’s excessed ‘laid off, made redundant’ — a verbing of the noun excess ‘superfluity’. It’s been around for 40 years or so, especially (but not exclusively) with reference to public employees, in particular teachers, and especially in New York City, where it seems to serve as administrative jargon.

The OED2 draft additions of 1993 has for the verb excess:

U.S. euphem. To declare (someone or something) to be in excess of requirements; to make (an employee or appointee) redundant. Also with out.

with three cites (all with reference to New York City):

1976   N.Y. Times 20 Jan. 28/5   According to a spokesman for the Board of Education, 243 supervisors were ‘excessed’ last November and transferred out of their districts.

1976   Listener 27 May 666/1   The thousands of [New York] policemen, firemen, [etc.]..haven’t been ‘fired’. They have been, in an already classic euphemism, ‘excessed out’.

1980   N.Y. Times 26 June b6/4   Assistant principals, who are removed, or ‘excessed’,..ostensibly because of declining enrollment.

It also has the adjective excessed with an extensive to another administrative context, property inventories:

1987   N.Y. Times 8 Nov. xxi. 15/4   There are still a number of excessed school buildings that could house them.

Googling provides plenty of examples of verbed excess. Here are two more from the NYC school system:

As per the agreement between the UFT and DOE, teachers who are excessed are placed into the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) [supplying substitute teachers]. Each week, teachers in the ATR are given assignments to schools within their seniority community school district or high school superintendency. A teacher’s seniority district is determined by the district from which they were originally excessed from and teachers may not be assigned to the school they were excessed from and/or previously served as a teacher in the ATR. (link)


We have reported previously on the often futile nature of the UFT grievance process. Yesterday, that view was reinforced during a Chancellor’s level hearing where an excessed math teacher was denied the right to teach a math program.

The math teacher was excessed in June from Jamaica High School. In the fall, three new math classes were created as we started the year with scores of oversize classes. (link)

Plus a fair number of superfluous-property examples, like these:

This section describes what happened to the equipment from the old system. Explain where it is located, or if it was excessed, the date it was excessed. (link)

The Four-Volume History
Was Excessed During the
Inventory Reduction

As mentioned earlier, according to the IMS responsible for handling
congressional publications, the decisions concerning which publications
to excess were primarily based on the criteria of high printing and binding … (link)

The verb still has the air of administrative jargon about it, as Larry Sheldon noted on ADS-L on March 12th, in a mention of made redundant and excessed as alternatives to let go for ‘laid off’.


2 Responses to “excessed”

  1. the ridger Says:

    Hm. We use it all the time (in the Dept of Defense) but only for equipment. It usually means gotten rid of, but occasionally means replaced.

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