/ (ðɒn) /
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a Scot word for yon
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Word Origin for thon

C19: of uncertain origin

British Dictionary definitions for thon (2 of 2)


suffix forming nouns
indicating a large-scale event or operation of a specified kindtelethon

Word Origin for -thon

C20: on the pattern of 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


What does -thon mean?

The combining formthon 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 –thon 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 –thon?

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

Examples of -thon

A word you may be familiar with that features –thon is telethon, “a television broadcast lasting several hours, especially one soliciting support for a charity.”

The form tele– has a variety of meanings, but here it means “transmission over a distance,” from Greek têle, and specifically refers to “television.” The ending –thon means “a long event.” Telethon literally means “a long television event,” especially to raise money. According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, the first telethon was held in 1949 to raise money for cancer research.

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

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

Many words that end with the exact letters –thon do not use the combining form –thon to denote “a long event,” particularly scientific terms such as anacoluthon, autochthon, trilithon, and python. Learn why python means “boa constrictor” at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

Given the meaning of –thon, what kind of an event is a radiothon?

How to use thon in a sentence