I want to use that word to talk about the cover songs which are better than the original songs.

Edit: Thanks for the answers. However, I am specifically looking for a single word replacement for "a copy which is better than the original."

  • 3
    – JMP
    Mar 16, 2015 at 11:11
  • 6
    I think "better than the original" is what you're looking for.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 16, 2015 at 11:50
  • @HotLicks but I was thinking may there was like a single word for that.
    – Aamir Abro
    Mar 16, 2015 at 14:56
  • 2
    You found it: better. 17 Cover Songs That Are Way Better Than The Original
    – ermanen
    Mar 16, 2015 at 16:38
  • 3
    Just a comment: all these answers are giving you synonyms for better, not specifically a copy which is better than the original.
    – Nick2253
    Mar 16, 2015 at 23:37

10 Answers 10


For a noun, which seems to be what you are looking for, try improvement, e.g. "Of the three covers we heard tonight, only two were improvements on the original songs."


surpass sur·pass /sərˈpas/
1. exceed; be greater than. be better than.

alternative synonyms: transcend; outdo; outshine; outclass; improve on; top; trump; better.

The cover outshines the original (etc.)

The following search: cover song "outshines the original" on Google produced a respectable 82,300 results. It is nowhere high a number as "be better than" (26,800,000 results) but the OP asked for a snappier one word expression, the term outshine is not only shorter but it is more striking and less cliché.

  • 1
    I think outdo could be highlighted in this answer too.
    – mungflesh
    Mar 17, 2015 at 7:43
  • @mungflesh the (etc.) is meant to imply that any of the synonyms can apply. I quite like tops the original and trumps the original too.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 17, 2015 at 9:29

To be better than something is to eclipse it, depriving it of significance:

Jill's cover of Nothing Else Matters eclipses the original.

Also see: best, trounce, upstage


A useful word to describe this concept is supersede, though I would use it carefully when talking about music. Some songs do supersede the original version, Santana's, She's Not There, as at the time it was a very modern version compared to the original and is frequently regarded as his song , but certain purists would be horified at that notion.


I suggest the word "refine", as in the cover songs refine the originals or (if you need a noun) are refinements of the originals.

From the Mirriam-Webster dictionary - "Refine: to improve (something) by making small changes"


transcendent; adjective, tran·scen·dent -MW

a : exceeding usual limits : surpassing
b : extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience

Johnny Cash's rendition of Hurt is transcendent; I can't stand Reznor's voice (just an example, the reverse is actually true for me).

Or you could say:

Johnny Cash's rendition of Hurt is [better than the original copy]; I can't stand Reznor's voice.

  • That's the only better word I got for better than what was.
    – Mazura
    Mar 17, 2015 at 3:40

In the context of music, "outperforms" would be an interesting variant of 'surpasses'. ("Band A's cover of The Song outperformed Band B's original in every way.")

Or, perhaps, "overshadows" (especially if the original song was by Cliff Richard and the, err, Shadows).


All of the phrases provided above are just that -- phrases, and there are nuances to the different verbs that people suggest (supersede, scale, transcend, eclipse). But no, there is no single word in English that means "a copy that is better than the original." Given all the clunky phrases suggested, I think we need one. Maybe you could create it?

  • do you have a suggestion for one?
    – Erich
    Mar 17, 2015 at 4:29

This phrase may be used to express the same idea:

He made it his own.

  • 1
    This is not a single word, which has been specifically requested. Also, you do not explain why this is a good answer. As far as I can see, it is not. Mar 18, 2015 at 16:05
  • Not only is this not a single word, so not an answer to the question, it is also not relevant to the question as far as I can tell. To make something ones own does not imply any copy; be it better or worse than the original.
    – terdon
    Mar 18, 2015 at 19:18

You can also say-

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    If someone said a cover "scaled" the original, I'd reply, "What do you mean?"
    – JYelton
    Mar 16, 2015 at 23:23

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