[ bahy-ath-lon ]
/ baɪˈæθ lɒn /
Save This Word!

a contest in which cross-country skiers, carrying rifles, shoot at targets at four stops along a 12.5-mile (20 km) course.
an athletic contest comprising any two consecutive events.
Hold your head up high as you embark on this quiz that explores some of the synonyms and meanings of “pride.”
Question 1 of 7
What does "dignity" mean?

Origin of biathlon

1955–60; bi-1 + Greek âthlon contest; modeled on decathlon
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is the biathlon?

A biathlon is a sporting event that combines cross-country skiing with target shooting.

Biathlons are held on cross-country skiing courses with multiple target stops placed throughout the course. Participants compete to finish the course in the shortest time. There are different types of biathlons, including sprints, relays, individual events, and team biathlons.

Depending on the rules and the type of competition, missing a shot may add time to the competitor’s overall time or require them to take a lap before shooting again. Many events require the competitors to shoot from two different positions: from the ground (in a prone position) and standing. The size of the targets varies.

The biathlon is an event in the Winter Olympics and the Paralympic Winter Games.

The word biathlon can also be used to refer to any athletic competition that involves two consecutive events, but this use is less common.

A participant in a biathlon can be called a biathlete.

Example: The biathlon is a unique event requiring stamina and concentration.

Where does biathlon come from?

The first records of the word biathlon come from the 1950s. It is a combination of the prefix bi-, meaning “two,” and the Greek term âthlon, which means “prize” or “contest” and is also the basis of the words athlete and athletics. The word is modeled on the name of the decathlon, a multisport competition featuring 10 events.

The origins of the biathlon can be traced back to Scandinavia and the use of skis there for practical travel and transport, including during hunting. In the mid-1700s, the militaries of Scandinavian countries like Norway and Sweden held events that combined cross-country skiing and target shooting as a type of competition and skills display. When the sport debuted at the 1924 Winter Olympics as a demonstration event, it was called military patrol.

The biathlon was added to the Winter Olympics as a full event in 1960. A women’s biathlon event was introduced in 1992.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to biathlon?

What are some words that share a root or word element with biathlon

What are some words that often get used in discussing biathlon?

How is biathlon used in real life?

Biathlon is best known as an event in the Winter Olympics.



Try using biathlon!

True or False? 

The event that became known as biathlon was once called military patrol.

How to use biathlon in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for biathlon

/ (baɪˈæθlən, -lɒn) /

sport a contest in which skiers with rifles shoot at four targets along a 20-kilometre (12.5-mile) cross-country course
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