noun, often attributive
mar·​a·​thon | \ ˈmer-ə-ˌthän How to pronounce marathon (audio) , 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 How to pronounce Marathon (audio) , 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

Noun We watched a marathon of our favorite movies.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun After a marathon of soirees, even the most well-catered-to complexions are in need of a helping hand. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "11 Swoon-Worthy Beauty Gifts for the Friend Who Has Everything," 12 Dec. 2019 Vetter prefers dry beers for a day that seems to become a marathon of eating and drinking. Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewery owners offer their tips for pairing beers with the Thanksgiving meal," 25 Nov. 2019 This week’s marathon of impeachment hearings could well end with another blockbuster. Alana Abramson, Time, "Final Witnesses of the Week Take the Stand in Impeachment Hearings: Watch Live," 21 Nov. 2019 Fleming: Theatre lovers, artists, journalists, and producers may flock to the festival for an immersive weekend marathon of world-class theatre, networking, and special events. Kathryn Gregory, The Courier-Journal, "Race, fat-shaming and grit. The 2020 Humana Festival of New American Plays tackles it all," 13 Nov. 2019 Each year the non-stop marathon of feel-good, holiday films has gotten bigger, started earlier, and included more and more of our favorite stars. Rebecca Angel Baer, Southern Living, "Kellie Pickler Gives Us the Inside Scoop on Her New Hallmark Movie, The Mistletoe Secret," 9 Nov. 2019 The Baltimore Marathon will be Will Wright’s first road marathon of his career. Edward Lee,, "Each runner is unique. So are their training methods for Saturday’s Baltimore Marathon.," 17 Oct. 2019 Radcliffe’s record was the longest-standing in the men’s or women’s marathon of the past 50 years. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "Noah Droddy becomes 2nd-fastest marathoner ever out of Indiana," 13 Oct. 2019 The marathon of candidates who’ve spoken so far have mostly laid out similar plans to invest in green energy and reduce emissions. Casey Tolan, The Mercury News, "Kamala Harris lays out $10 trillion plan to fight climate change, says she’d ban plastic straws," 4 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for marathon

Time Traveler

The first known use of marathon was in 1896

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Statistics for marathon

Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Marathon.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 27 January 2020.

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More Definitions for marathon


How to pronounce Marathon (audio)

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 How to pronounce marathon (audio) \

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).


one that suddenly gains wealth or power

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