Du kannst jetzt mittelmäßige Ergebnisse haben oder später herausragende Ergebnisse.

English Translation

You can have mediocre results now or outstanding results later.

  • Hervorragend: - die üblichste Bezeichnung, eine Wertung, die auch ohne Vergleich mit anderen gegeben werden kann
  • herausragend: besser als die anderen
  • überragend: weit besser als die anderen

I’ve actually never heard “herausragend” or “überragend” until now. Good to know these words!

In my opinion, there is no difference between these words. You can use them all interchangeably.

The verb “(heraus)ragen” means “to stick out” of its environment or surrounding elements. The prefix “heraus” just tells you it sticks outwards but leaves unspecified in which direction. By changing the prefix to “hervor” or “über” you can sort of specify in which direction it sticks out.

But to express that something is much better than the rest—it can be differentiated from its surrounding by its quality—it suffices that it’s different. You don’t care about “different in which direction?” It’s simply not necessary information. Therefore, “hervorragend”, “herausragend”, “überragend” are all equal.