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a suffix extracted from marathon, occurring as the final element in compounds which have the general sense “an event, as a sale or contest, drawn out to unusual length, often until a prearranged goal, as the contribution of a certain amount of money, is reached”: walkathon; readathon.
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Also -a-thon, -thon.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does -athon mean?

The combining formathon is used like a suffix meaning “a long event, typically with a particular goal.” It is occasionally used to form informal or slang terms.

The form –athon is derived from the ending of the word marathon, meaning “a foot race over a course measuring 26.2 miles.” The name is an allusion to the ancient Greek legend of Pheidippides, who ran from Marathon to Athens to carry news of the Greek victory over the Persians in 490 BCE.

What are variants of –athon?

When combined with words or word elements that end with a vowel, the form –athon becomes thon, as in telethon. Want to know more? Read our Words That Use article on –thon.

Examples of -athon

One example of a term that features the form –athon is talkathon, “an unusually long speech or discussion, especially on a matter of public interest, as a Congressional filibuster or a televised question-and-answer session with a political candidate.”

The first part of the word talkathon, talk, means “talk.” As we have seen, the form –athon means “a long event.” Talkathon literally means “a long talking event.”

What are some words that use the combining form –athon?

What are some other forms that –athon may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

Given the meaning of –athon, what kind of an event is a walkathon?

How to use -athon in a sentence