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

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 Fong won the decathlon at the USATF U20 Junior National Championships, amassing 6,766 points including first-place finishes in the discus, javelin and 1,500-meter run. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "Houston Christian Track Club trio triumphs at Pan American U20 Championships," 29 July 2019 This was 1976—the same summer that Jenner won the Olympic decathlon—and Richards faced a decision: Retreat further and try to lead a life in repose, or fight a battle to the detriment of her privacy but the benefit of her conscience. Jon Wertheim,, "She's a Transgender Pioneer, But Renée Richards Prefers to Stay Out of the Spotlight," 28 June 2019 Right fielder Jim Thorpe, the 1912 Olympic decathlon and pentathlon champion, stepped to the plate. Mark Schmetzer,, "Top games in Cincinnati Reds history: No. 38 – A pitcher's duel for the ages in 1917," 12 June 2019 Stanford’s Harrison Williams is in prime position after the first day of the NCAA decathlon., "UO Ducks begin their pursuit of a NCAA women’s team trophy: Oregon track & field rundown," 6 June 2019 But Boling developed knee pain that necessitated cutting back on field events, eliminating the punishing decathlon as a future endeavor. Tim Layden,, "Is High School Sprint Phenom and Viral Star Matthew Boling the Future of Track?," 19 June 2019 Some fitness entrepreneurs are going for the whole decathlon of contained group athletics. Katherine Rosman, New York Times, "The Boutique Fitness Boom," 17 June 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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Statistics for decathlon

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for decathlon

The first known use of decathlon was in 1910

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English Language Learners Definition of decathlon

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on decathlon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with decathlon

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decathlon

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

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