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


We watched a marathon of our favorite movies.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

After nearly nine hours of often-passionate debate in an all-day marathon at the state Capitol, the House voted 86 - 65 as five fiscally conservative Democrats joined with 60 Republicans against the measure. Christopher Keating,, "House approves state budget that would increase cost of alcohol, plastic bags, parking and prepared meals," 4 June 2019 The deal is expected to be presented to the judge following days of marathon negotiations between the pioneering American retailer and its bank lenders, Bank of America Corp. , Wells Fargo & Co., and Citigroup Inc. Soma Biswas, WSJ, "Sears: Will It Shrink, or Close?," 14 Oct. 2018 Italy’s new populist government had refused Thursday to sign off on an earlier list of joint conclusions — which also touched on defense, trade and technology — in a tactic that set off the marathon negotiations. Washington Post, "E.U. leaders agree on the outline of a migration deal," 29 June 2018 A few weeks after undergoing surgery to repair his femur, Kerry completed the marathon negotiations on the Iran deal. Matt Viser,, "President Trump blasts John Kerry for ‘shadow diplomacy’ on Iran deal," 7 May 2018 Its aesthetic and branding mimic that of marathon, Spartan races, Tough Mudder events, and other weekend warrior tentpoles. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "E-Biking My Way Through New York's Five Boro Bike Tour," 9 May 2019 For example, Kate made a public appearance five weeks after Prince George was born on July 22, at the start of an ultra marathon in Anglesey on August 30. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle's Maternity Leave Is “Likely to be Longer” Than Three Months," 26 Apr. 2019 That makes this less of a marathon, and more of Twitch turning into a kind of faux-TV channel that only airs Pokémon at specific times. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Twitch to stream almost every Pokémon movie and TV episode ever," 23 Aug. 2018 When nurse Jessica Anderson completed last Sunday's (April 28) London Marathon in a speedy three hours, eight minutes and 22 seconds, the runner was poised to hold the world record title for fastest marathon completed in a nurse's uniform. Jennifer Lance, Glamour, "A Nurse Was Denied a Marathon World Record—Because She Was Wearing Pants," 5 May 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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Statistics for marathon

Last Updated

11 Jun 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 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).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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