de·​cath·​lon | \ di-ˈkath-lən How to pronounce decathlon (audio) , -ˌlän, -ˈka-thə- \

Definition of decathlon

: a 10-event athletic contest specifically : a composite contest that consists of the 100-meter, 400-meter, and 1500-meter runs, the 110-meter high hurdles, the javelin and discus throws, shot put, pole vault, high jump, and long jump

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Did You Know?

Decathlon from deca- and athlon, "contest", means "ten contests". The ancient Greek Olympics held five-contest competitions, or pentathlons, that were based on the skills needed in battle. The modern Olympic decathlon, which was born in 1912, consists of the 100-meter run, 400-meter run, 1500-meter run, 110-meter high hurdles, javelin throw, discus throw, shot put, pole vault, high jump, and long jump. The original winner was the legendary Jim Thorpe, who would later be judged the greatest American athlete of the 20th century. And ever since, the Olympic decathlon winner has been called the finest all-around athlete in the world.

Examples of decathlon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Pacific's Chris Butcher posts a first-day decathlon score of 3,247 at the Boxer Combined Event, Switch from the hurdles to the 800 pays big dividends for Northern Arizona's Ashley Taylor. Ken Goe,, "Wouldn't it make sense for USATF to reinstate Vin Lananna? Oregon track & field rundown," 28 Mar. 2018 In his senior year, Ramsey suffered a midseason hip injury, which prevented him from competing in the decathlon. Los Angeles Times, "Jalen Ramsey’s ‘extraordinary’ talent and competitiveness were nurtured in hometown," 22 Oct. 2019 Former University of Oregon athlete Mitch Modin takes viewers through his second day of training in his return to the decathlon in this vlog., "Intensity of feelings about the Hayward project becomes public: Oregon track & field rundown," 1 June 2018 The couple started their relationship in a competitive way — their first date was a decathlon of sorts, the loser of which had to wear a T-shirt in playfully shameful recognition of the loss, and Holtkamp-Sterling still has her shirt as a reminder. Tim Reynolds,, "Married NBA refs working to make the right calls at home," 17 Oct. 2019 As a junior, Ramsey won state titles in the 200, 400, long jump and decathlon. Los Angeles Times, "Jalen Ramsey’s ‘extraordinary’ talent and competitiveness were nurtured in hometown," 22 Oct. 2019 Edstrom, 80, ran track at Oregon and won the gold medal in the men’s decathlon at the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago and represented the United States at the 1960 Summer Olympics. Staff Reports,, "Former Oregon, Olympic decathlete David Allan Edstrom passes away," 16 Aug. 2019 The First Academy’s Alex Shields, competing in a decathlon for just the second time, placed second at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in Greensboro, N.C., over the weekend. Buddy Collings,, "The First Academy standout Alex Shields excels in AAU decathlon," 2 Aug. 2019 Shields’ mark is the second best decathlon score for an area athlete in a span of 10 years – just behind a 6,479 score by East Ridge grad Jonathan Griffin-Heard in the summer of 2017. Buddy Collings,, "The First Academy standout Alex Shields excels in AAU decathlon," 2 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decathlon.' 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 decathlon

1910, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for decathlon

French décathlon, from déca- deca- + -athlon (as in pentathlon)

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Time Traveler for decathlon

Time Traveler

The first known use of decathlon was in 1910

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Statistics for decathlon

Last Updated

4 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Decathlon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for decathlon


How to pronounce decathlon (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of decathlon

: a sports contest for men that consists of 10 different events

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decathlon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with decathlon

Britannica English: Translation of decathlon for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about decathlon

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