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  1. a television broadcast lasting several hours, especially one soliciting support for a charity.
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Origin of telethon

1945–50; tele-1 + -thon
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Contemporary Examples

British Dictionary definitions for telethon


  1. a lengthy television programme to raise charity funds, etc
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Word Origin

C20: from tele- + marathon
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for telethon


prolonged TV fundraiser, 1949, from tele(vision) + (mara)thon (see -athon). Milton Berle's 16-hour television cancer fundraiser in April 1949 might have been the first to be so called.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper