noun, often attributive
mar·​a·​thon | \ ˈmer-ə-ˌthän, ˈma-rə-\

Definition of marathon

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a footrace run on an open course usually of 26 miles 385 yards (42.2 kilometers) broadly : a long-distance race
2a : an endurance contest
b : something (such as an event, activity, or session) characterized by great length or concentrated effort


geographical name
Mar·​a·​thon | \ ˈmer-ə-ˌthän, ˈma-rə-\

Definition of Marathon (Entry 2 of 2)

1 plain of eastern Greece in Attica northeast of Athens on the Aegean Sea
2 ancient town on the plain of Marathon

Examples of marathon in a Sentence


We watched a marathon of our favorite movies.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Whether your character expires after 45 seconds of gameplay or a 50-hour marathon, the result is the same: there is no extra life. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "If You Can't Beat It, Code It," 17 Dec. 2018 That all changed in November during the New York City marathon, around mile 15. Korin Miller, SELF, "This Healthy, Experienced Runner Had a Heart Attack During the New York City Marathon," 10 Dec. 2018 Linden, 34, fell to third in the second half of the 26.2-mile race then came back in the final six miles to win comfortably in 2:39.54 for her first marathon victory. Jeff Metcalfe, azcentral, "Boston Marathon: Former ASU runner Desiree Linden first American woman to win since 1985," 16 Apr. 2018 Linden, 34, a two-time Olympian with a world-class personal best, secured her first major marathon victory in 2:39:54, more than four minutes ahead of the rest of the field. Sara Germano, WSJ, "Desiree Linden Wins Boston Marathon, First American Woman Since 1985," 16 Apr. 2018 In the ninth inning of Friday’s marathon victory, Aybar crumpled to the ground after fouling a ball off his foot. Dennis Lin,, "Padres place Aybar on DL, activate Baumann," 22 July 2017 Hoof, who recorded his second marathon victory, moved to New Orleans last year to attend medical school. Joseph Halm,, "Marcus Hoof, Kylen Cieslak claim top spots at 2018 Humana Rock 'N' Roll Marathon," 10 Apr. 2017 There’s a two-mile walk, a five-mile fun run and even a half-marathon through the woods. Katie Jackson, Fox News, "Montana resort caters to dogs with gourmet meals, mixers and four-legged fashion shows," 13 Sep. 2018 Andrew Knapp hit a walk-off homer to end a 13-inning marathon, and then LeBron crushed Philly by going to LA. Matt Breen,, "Phillies have to clean up after surviving tough stretch | Extra Innings," 2 July 2018

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


1896, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for marathon


Marathon, Greece, site of a victory of Greeks over Persians in 490 b.c., the news of which was carried to Athens by a long-distance runner

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Statistics for marathon

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for marathon

The first known use of marathon was in 1896

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More Definitions for marathon



English Language Learners Definition of marathon

: a running race that is about 26 miles (42 kilometers) long

: something (such as an event or activity) that lasts an extremely long time or that requires great effort

: a contest in which people compete with each other to see who can do something for the longest amount of time


mar·​a·​thon | \ ˈmer-ə-ˌthän \

Kids Definition of marathon

1 : a long-distance running race
2 : a long hard contest

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Comments on marathon

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


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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