ath·​lete | \ ˈath-ˌlēt How to pronounce athlete (audio) , nonstandard ˈa-thə-ˌlēt How to pronounce athlete (audio) \

Definition of athlete

1 : a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina
2 : an animal (such as a horse or a dog) that competes in races or other sporting events or has qualities (such as stamina and agility) suggestive of a human athlete Hospice working dogs were wiry, muscular, agile, yellowish-tan or brown athletes with unexaggerated heads …— Deborah Lawson

Examples of athlete in a Sentence

Athletes from around the world will be competing at the Olympics. She was quite an athlete as a child.
Recent Examples on the Web The top three finalists and athlete of the year for each sport will be announced July 15 on USA TODAY, "Wyoming High School Sports Awards to recognize and name the top student athletes in Wyoming throughout year," 19 Nov. 2020 Stellar two-way athlete with his three-point shooting, powerful frame and defensive prowess. Marcus Fuller, Star Tribune, "NBA mock draft: From Wolves top pick to where Minnesotans Oturu, Nnaji go," 18 Nov. 2020 Smith, although thin, is a fluid athlete, aggressive on defense and shot 36.8% from three-point range last season. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, "NBA Mock Draft 3.0: Will the Timberwolves take LaMelo Ball at No. 1?," 17 Nov. 2020 Not a brilliant athlete, but a crafty, smart playmaker. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, "The Tribune’s mock NBA draft — the 2.0 version," 17 Nov. 2020 High School sports and extracurriculars are limited to two spectators permitted per athlete, performer or competitor. Lucas Manfredi, Fox News, "Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds orders limited mask mandate, new COVID-19 business restrictions," 17 Nov. 2020 Fellow high school athlete, three years her senior, Sherry Lusk. David Begnaud, CBS News, "Prizefighter Christy Martin on facing her biggest battle outside of the ring," 14 Nov. 2020 In fact, only one athlete — Emily Shumock of Faith Academy — won an individual title. Arthur L. Mack, al, "Huntsville boys, Auburn girls, Presley Miles continue dominance in state cross country meet," 14 Nov. 2020 Powerful and explosive athlete that can finish above the rim and guard all over the floor. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "2020 NBA Draft: Isaac Okoro is willing to do whatever it takes to win, can be ‘elite two-way player’ in Andre Iguodala mold," 13 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'athlete.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of athlete

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for athlete

Middle English, from Latin athleta, from Greek athlētēs, from athlein to contend for a prize, from athlon prize, contest

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about athlete

Time Traveler for athlete

Time Traveler

The first known use of athlete was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for athlete

Last Updated

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Athlete.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for athlete


How to pronounce athlete (audio) How to pronounce athlete (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of athlete

: a person who is trained in or good at sports, games, or exercises that require physical skill and strength


ath·​lete | \ ˈath-ˌlēt How to pronounce athlete (audio) \

Kids Definition of athlete

: a person who is trained in or good at games and exercises that require physical skill, endurance, and strength

More from Merriam-Webster on athlete

Nglish: Translation of athlete for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of athlete for Arabic Speakers

Comments on athlete

What made you want to look up athlete? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!