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 How could a seemingly healthy, 27-year-old professional athlete die with no obvious explanation? Nathan Fenno, Los Angeles Times, "Inside the search for answers about Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs’ overdose death," 29 Apr. 2021 The 5-foot-11, 170-pound athlete was recruited as both a wide receiver and defensive back by other schools, earning scholarship offers from Central Michigan, Florida Atlantic and UNLV. oregonlive, "Oregon State Beavers add 4 preferred walk-on commitments," 29 Apr. 2021 Spectacular athlete lacking significant collegiate production. Tim Bielik, cleveland, "NFL Draft 2021: The top 300 players, ranked," 28 Apr. 2021 When a Ugandan artist or athlete steals international headlines for good reasons, they are often embraced by the government for example, within limits. Stephen Kafeero, Quartz, "How Ugandan is Oscar-winner Daniel Kaluuya?," 28 Apr. 2021 What athlete in the world ran the 400 m to a mile and excelled in this era? Sean Gregory, Time, "Caster Semenya Is Barred From Her Best Race. But She Won't Give Up On Tokyo," 28 Apr. 2021 Who better than arguably the greatest athlete (and most competitive person) in history? Ben Flanagan |, al, "What to watch on Netflix: The 10 best movies you can stream now," 28 Apr. 2021 Gophers freshman Abigail Schaaffe was named the Big Ten women's track athlete of the week on Wednesday. Star Tribune, "Gophers runner Abigail Schaaffe named Big Ten's women's track athlete of the week," 28 Apr. 2021 Pros: Top-shelf athlete for the position; a credible dual threat. USA TODAY, "2021 NFL draft: Quarterback rankings led by Clemson's Trevor Lawrence," 27 Apr. 2021

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for athlete

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for athlete

Last Updated

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Athlete.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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

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