• synonyms


[pen-tath-luh n, -lon]
  1. an athletic contest comprising five different track and field events and won by the contestant gaining the highest total score.
  2. modern pentathlon.
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Origin of pentathlon

1700–10; < Greek pénthāthlon, equivalent to pent- pent- + âthlon contest
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pentathlon

Historical Examples of pentathlon

  • He had the three games out of five and was winner of the pentathlon.

    Buried Cities, Part 2

    Jennie Hall

  • They had already completed the chariot-race, and the foot-race of the pentathlon.



  • And he who is beautiful for the Pentathlon is very bad for wrestling?

  • He was awfully keen on the Pentathlon; wanted to have it at the sports.

    Second String

    Anthony Hope

  • The Pentathlon, so called because it comprised five exercises.

British Dictionary definitions for pentathlon


  1. an athletic contest consisting of five different events, based on a competition in the ancient Greek OlympicsCompare decathlon
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Derived Formspentathlete, noun

Word Origin for pentathlon

C18: from Greek pentathlon, from penta- + athlon contest
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

Word Origin and History for pentathlon


athletic contest of five events, 1852, from Greek pentathlon "the contest of five exercises," from pente "five" (see five) + athlon "prize, contest," of uncertain origin. Earlier in English in Latin form pentathlum (1706). The Greek version consisted of jumping, sprinting, discus and spear throwing, and wrestling. The modern version (1912) consists of horseback riding, fencing, shooting, swimming, and cross-country running.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper