• synonyms


[ pen-tath-luh n, -lon ]
/ pɛnˈtæθ lən, -lɒn /


an athletic contest comprising five different track and field events and won by the contestant gaining the highest total score.

Nearby words

pentastyle, pentastylos, pentasyllable, pentateuch, pentathlete, pentathlon, pentatomic, pentatonic scale, pentatonism, pentavalent, pentazocine

Origin of pentathlon

1700–10; < Greek pénthāthlon, equivalent to pent- pent- + âthlon contest Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pentathlon

British Dictionary definitions for pentathlon


/ (pɛnˈtæθlən) /


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper