[ uh-lim-pee-uhn, oh-lim- ]
/ əˈlɪm pi ən, oʊˈlɪm- /
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pertaining to Mount Olympus or dwelling thereon, as the gods of classical Greece.
pertaining to Olympia in Elis.
of, resembling, characteristic of, or suitable to the gods of Olympus; majestic or aloof: an Olympian landscape; an Olympian disdain.
an Olympian deity.
a contender in the Olympic Games.
a native or inhabitant of Olympia.
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Origin of Olympian

1585–95; <Late Latin Olympiānus, equivalent to Latin Olympi(us) (<Greek Olýmpios, derivative of ÓlymposOlympus) + -ānus-an


O·lym·pi·an·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does olympian mean?

An olympian is an athlete who competes (or has competed) in the Olympic Games (popularly called the Olympics), an international athletic competition featuring multiple sporting events between athletes representing their country. The word is often capitalized.

There are two related but separate events called the Olympics: one hosted in winter, called the Winter Games, and one hosted in summer, called the Summer Games (they are commonly called the Winter Olympics and the Summer Olympics). The Winter Olympics feature winter sports, including figure skating, skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey, and many others. The Summer Olympics feature traditionally warm weather and indoor sports, like track and field, gymnastics, swimming, and basketball, among many others.

At the Olympics, the Olympians who finish in the top three places in each event are famously awarded Olympic medals: gold for first place, silver for second place, and bronze for third place.

Olympians are often considered the best athletes in the world, and winning a medal—or simply being an olympian—is considered one of the peaks of athletic achievement.

The modern Olympics are based on an ancient Greek festival and competition that’s also referred to as the Olympic Games, and competitors in these games are also referred to as olympians.

Especially when it’s capitalized, the word Olympian can also be used in reference to the gods of Greek mythology, who were believed to inhabit Mount Olympus. It can be used as a noun referring to one of the gods or as an adjective to describe things involving them or resembling them. Sometimes, it’s used more generally to mean about the same thing as majestic.

Where does olympian come from?

The ancient Greek Olympic Games are thought to have been first held in 776 b.c.e., and they were held regularly—often every four years—until the 4th century c.e. They get their name from the fact that they were held in a place known as Olympia, the plain of Mount Olympus. The ancient Olympic Games featured a number of athletic competitions—some of which are still events today, such as discus—but they were also a major religious festival (hence their location, since Mount Olympus was believed to be the realm of the gods).

In 1892, French scholar Pierre de Coubertin began a movement to reinstate the Olympic Games as a global event. In 1896, the first global modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece. Today, the Olympics host thousands of olympians from more than 90 countries.

What are some terms that often get used in discussing olympians?

How are olympians discussed in real life?

Many Olympic events are widely considered the pinnacle of athletic competition, and olympians are often considered the best athletes in the world.


Try using olympian!

True or False?

The word olympian is ultimately based on the name of Mount Olympus.

How to use Olympian in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Olympian

/ (əˈlɪmpɪən) /

of or relating to Mount Olympus or to the classical Greek gods
majestic or godlike in manner or bearing
superior to mundane considerations, esp when impractical
of or relating to ancient Olympia or its inhabitants
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