[ dih-kath-lon ]
/ dɪˈkæθ lɒn /
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an athletic contest comprising ten different track-and-field events and won by the contestant amassing the highest total score.
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Origin of decathlon

1910–15; dec- + Greek âthlon prize, contest
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is a decathlon?

A decathlon is an athletic competition in which athletes compete in 10 different track-and-field events.

Decathlon events are usually spread out over multiple days (unlike endurance competitions such as triathlons, in which the events happen directly after one another).

Which events are in a decathlon?

The traditional modern decathlon includes the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400-meter running race on the first day; and a 110-meter hurdles race, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, and 1,500-meter running race the second day.

Athletes who compete in decathlons are called decathletes. They are often considered the world’s best all-around athletes due to their versatility and skill in multiple sports.

The decathlon at the summer Olympic Games (the Summer Games) is widely considered the highest level of competition, featuring the best decathletes from around the world.

Example: Most athletes are specialists—devoting all of their training to a single sport—but competing in a decathlon requires mastery of multiple sports.

Where does decathlon come from?

The first records of the word decathlon come from the early 1900s. Decathlon comes from a combination of the prefix dec-, meaning “ten,” and the Greek term âthlon, which means “prize” or “contest” and is also the basis of the words athlete and athletics.

The modern decathlon is based on a competition from the ancient Greek Olympic Games called the pentathlon, which featured five track-and-field events. In the 1900s, the decathlon was standardized for international competition so that it always features the same events in the same order with the same scoring format. The complicated scoring system has been updated many times.

The modern Olympic decathlon was originally a three-day event, but was shortened to two days in 1936.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to decathlon?

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

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

How is decathlon used in real life?

Athletes who compete in the decathlon are called decathletes, and they’re often considered the best all-around athletes in the world.

Try using decathlon!

Which of the following events is not a part of the Olympic decathlon?

A. running
B. swimming
C. pole vault
D. high jump

How to use decathlon in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for decathlon

/ (dɪˈkæθlɒn) /

an athletic contest for men in which each athlete competes in ten different eventsCompare pentathlon

Derived forms of decathlon

decathlete, noun

Word Origin for decathlon

C20: from deca- + Greek athlon contest, prize; see athlete
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