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 She is hilariously spared no indignity, from being partnered with Animal in the marathon to being promised and then denied the opportunity to do her famous ‘Lonely Asparagus’ sketch. Donald Liebenson, Vulture, "25 Essential Episodes of The Muppet Show," 19 Feb. 2021 Ero, the youngest musher in the marathon, pulled across the finish line in sixth place Tuesday evening. Katie Galioto, Star Tribune, "Minnesotan joins his mom in Beargrease Marathon: 'She just told me to race my own race'," 5 Feb. 2021 DiAlberto, 38, was playing in the marathon for the first time in addition to serving as the chairman. Gary Curreri,, "Davie golfers help raise $90K for charity," 17 Dec. 2020 On Sunday, runners from around the world participated in a marathon through the southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Xi’s China is preparing for a new world order," 15 Dec. 2020 Osako is the Japanese record-holder in the marathon, as well as the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. oregonlive, "Galen Rupp and Suguru Osako are aiming for a fast half marathon on Friday near Eugene," 28 Oct. 2020 All six of the films produced from 1972 to 1974 based on the beloved Lone Wolf and Cub manga are sitting on HBO Max waiting for your weekend marathon. Brian Tallerico, Vulture, "The 100 Best Movies on HBO Max," 1 Feb. 2021 The Encore channel opens its Christmas Eve marathon of the holiday favorite starring Will Ferrell, Bob Newhart and James Caan with a sing-along/cheer-along version. Los Angeles Times, "What’s on TV Thursday: ‘Heisman Trophy Finalists Reveal’," 23 Dec. 2020 Parma City Council President Sean Patrick Brennan is about to run his 100th marathon, this time to benefit the community. Shirley Macfarland, cleveland, "Runner marks 100th marathon with Peanut Butter Drive: Talk of the Towns," 5 Dec. 2020

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

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Marathon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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 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

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