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 Something most people don't understand is life is a marathon and not a sprint. Jewel Wicker, Billboard, "Spotlight: Photographer Cam Kirk Is Taking Inspiration From Record Labels for His New 'Collective Gallery'," 19 Nov. 2019 Before 1870, when the entrepreneur Thomas Cook introduced steamers (and declassé package tours), a cruise on the world’s longest river was a marathon. Michelle Green, New York Times, "A Nile Journey Guided by 19th-Century Women," 11 Nov. 2019 Halloween is a maniacal marathon, not a spooky sprint in Orlando. Dewayne Bevil,, "Fear not: New fare perks up Halloween in theme parks," 28 Oct. 2019 New Year's Eve is quickly approaching, and as the countdown begins, we're reminded that this holiday is a marathon. Rebekah Lowin, Country Living, "Here Are Starbucks' New Year's Eve and New Year's Day Hours for 2020," 21 Oct. 2019 Keep in mind that your career is a marathon, not a sprint. Susan Goldberg, National Geographic, "We asked women around the world these 6 provocative questions," 20 Oct. 2019 Below, find a schedule of Saturday’s events, the road and lane closures for race day and the days leading up, how to watch the day’s events, and who the top contenders are in the 19th annual festival’s marathon. Nathan Ruiz,, "Baltimore Running Festival: Road closures, top marathon contenders and how to watch," 16 Oct. 2019 Winning the double – the regular-season and the playoffs – is tough since one is a marathon and the other a sprint. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, "Soccer! Hello MLS playoffs, goodbye Jill Ellis," 8 Oct. 2019 The only Friday final is the women’s marathon, which begins at 10:59 a.m. -- Ken Goe Visit to get Oregonian/OregonLive journalism delivered to your email inbox. oregonlive, "Ryan Crouser, Matthew Centrowitz, Phyllis Francis are medal threats at the World Track Championships," 25 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

10 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Marathon.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

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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).


a period of high artistic development

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