Origin of marathon
Words nearby marathon
Other definitions for marathon (2 of 2)
MORE ABOUT MARATHON
What does marathon mean?
A marathon is a 26.22-mile (42.2-kilometer) long-distance race. Technically, the exact length of a marathon is 26 miles 385 yards (42 kilometers 195 meters). But the length is mostly commonly stated as 26.2 miles.
Marathons are most commonly running races, but some people complete marathons in wheelchairs. Marathon courses are typically on roadways, often those in or around a city.
The marathon is an event in the Summer Olympic Games. Major marathons are also held internationally in many major cities. Prominent events include the Boston Marathon, the New York Marathon, and the London Marathon.
A marathon runner can be called a marathoner.
A running race of 13.1 miles is known as a half-marathon. The term ultramarathon refers to a race of 50 miles or more.
The word marathon is also often used in a more general way to refer to a contest or event that takes a particularly long time and requires endurance, such as a dance marathon. A movie marathon involves several movies played consecutively. Sometimes, the word is used in a more figurative way to refer to a task or undertaking that takes a long time and requires patience, as in Be patient—learning karate is a marathon, not a sprint.
Example: I’ve always wanted to run a marathon, so I started training today.
Where does marathon come from?
The first records of the word marathon in English in reference to the race come from the 1890s. It comes from the name of a plain in Greece known as Marathon, where the Athenians defeated the Persians in 490 b.c.e. According to legend, an Athenian messenger named Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to deliver news of the Athenian victory—a distance of around 26 miles. Pheidippides is also said to have run to Sparta before the battle to secure aid from the Spartans.
Due to its ancient Greek origins, the marathon was included as an Olympic event at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896. The first marathon at the modern Olympics was 24.8548 miles (40 kilometers). The distance was increased to 26.22 miles (42.20 kilometers) at the 1908 Olympics. This distance was standardized for all major marathons in the 1920s.
The endings -thon and -athon are taken from marathon and used in the names of events involving a specific activity being done for a particularly long time and for a specific purpose, often as a contest or to raise money or both. Examples include walkathon, telethon, and dance-a-thon.
Did you know … ?
What are some other forms related to marathon?
- marathoner (noun)
- half-marathon (noun)
- ultramarathon (noun)
What are some words that often get used in discussing marathon?
How is marathon used in real life?
There are longer races, but marathons are the perhaps most popular long-distance race. Many people list running a marathon as a life goal. The 26.2-mile length of the marathon is well-known. When you see a sticker on a car that says “26.2,” it usually indicates that the person runs marathons or has completed a marathon.
Due to its association with long length and endurance, the word marathon is commonly used in more general and figurative ways.
For the first time since 1983 an American man has won the Boston Marathon! Congratulations Meb Keflezighi!
— Boston Marathon (@bostonmarathon) April 21, 2014
Just completed my first marathon!!! Started running 10 months ago and I never thought this day would come 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/i1jEWRu7aN
— Veeresh Neralagi (@veereshneralagi) May 1, 2021
Last four couples in a dance marathon, Chicago, circa 1930. pic.twitter.com/qSjnl9p86p
— Classic Pics (@ClassicPixs) May 4, 2021
✊🏼@Crosscut_Union✊🏼 is at the bargaining table again today with @CascadePubMedia and the clock is mostly off for what could possibly be a marathon session while our team fights for sustainable wages, healthcare & paid leave. We formally unionized 2 years ago. TWO YEARS! /1
— Matt M. McKnight (@mattmillsphoto) July 20, 2021
Try using marathon!
In the Greek legend that inspired the marathon, the messenger was running from Marathon to what place?
How to use marathon in a sentence
Gamers may want an adjustable desk to stay comfortable while playing and keep them from sitting too long during marathon sessions.Best adjustable desks: Stand or sit with double-duty office furniture|PopSci Commerce Team|February 26, 2021|Popular-Science
He has trained me for a marathon in a way that has really developed my speed.Why Running’s Fastest Amateur Just Went Pro|Martin Fritz Huber|February 14, 2021|Outside Online
Last March, after several of the big spring marathons were initially postponed until fall, I was surprised at how confident people seemed to be that these races would actually happen.Will Major Marathons Actually Come Back This Fall?|Martin Fritz Huber|February 4, 2021|Outside Online
You see thru-hikers jump into a marathon a week after they’re done, and it goes miserably.Did Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail Ruin My Body?|Grayson Haver Currin|January 25, 2021|Outside Online
For media companies, the Consumer Electronics Show has long been more about marathon sales meetings than consumer electronics.‘Never smart to let things fall off people’s calendars’: How publishers are selling during a virtual CES|Max Willens|January 11, 2021|Digiday
Portlandia marathon—9 am-2:30 pm, IFCBecause what better time than Turkey Day to put on a bird on it?The Ultimate Thanksgiving Weekend TV Guide: Must-See Marathons, Specials, and Parades|Kevin Fallon|November 26, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Rambo movie marathon—11 am-12 am, AMCBecause nothing says the holidays like Sly Stallone and blood.The Ultimate Thanksgiving Weekend TV Guide: Must-See Marathons, Specials, and Parades|Kevin Fallon|November 26, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Thanksgiving with Friends marathon—10 am—TBSA marathon of every Thanksgiving episode of Friends.The Ultimate Thanksgiving Weekend TV Guide: Must-See Marathons, Specials, and Parades|Kevin Fallon|November 26, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Indiana Jones movie marathon—12:30 pm, SpikeAn Indiana Jones movie marathon is never not a good idea.The Ultimate Thanksgiving Weekend TV Guide: Must-See Marathons, Specials, and Parades|Kevin Fallon|November 26, 2014|DAILY BEAST
It would be like making a decision about whether or not to keep exercising at mile 24 of a marathon.Jon Stewart Talks ‘Rosewater’ and the ‘Chickensh-t’ Democrats’ Midterm Massacre|Marlow Stern|November 9, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The Greek fire is not extinguished; it burns to-day as bright and pure as ever at Salamis or Marathon.The Boys of '61|Charles Carleton Coffin.
The Plain of Marathon was so named from the abundance of Fennel (μαραθρον) growing on it.The plant-lore and garden-craft of Shakespeare|Henry Nicholson Ellacombe
No sculptured marble of a Greek runner was ever more beautiful than Sara as he ran the Marathon.
After all he's been more than punished, even for the Marathon matter or for that crazy romance about the ducal inheritance.
So he speedily made his preparations, and drew up his small force on the plain of Marathon, between the mountains and the sea.The Story of the Greeks|H. A. Guerber
British Dictionary definitions for marathon (1 of 2)
- any long or arduous task, assignment, etc
- (as modifier)a marathon effort