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 | \ˈma-rə-ˌthän \

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

Halpern was the last lawyer to deliver closing arguments in the penalty phase of the marathon trial of Ingraham and his co-defendants, Andre Delancy and Bernard Forbes. Rafael Olmeda,, "Final plea for mercy before jury weighs death penalty in murder of Broward deputy," 13 July 2018 Consider this: in the men’s marathon at the 2016 Olympics, all three medalists were wearing a version of the Vaporfly 4%, despite the fact that the shoe didn’t officially exist yet. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, "Is it Fair for Runners to Compete in Prototypes?," 10 July 2018 Roman-Duval, who competed in the Olympic Trials marathon and finished 50th out of 149 runners in a time of 2:46.47, won the Firecracker 10K in 2016. Craig Clary,, "Water main break doesn't steer new Arbutus Firecracker 10K race director off course," 5 July 2018 An equal number of runners expected to take part in the half-marathon originally planned to go over the bridge will now be rerouted through the Presidio and into Golden Gate Park. Matier & Ross,, "This month’s SF Marathon runs into obstacle at Golden Gate Bridge," 1 July 2018 First, the running craze of the 1970s triggered a boom in marathons. David Wharton,, "Ultra running can mean extreme heat, mountain climbs and, oh yeah, look out for those trees," 14 June 2018 Eritrea's Zersenay Tadese, the world record holder in the half marathon, will also race in September's Berlin Marathon. Chris Chavez,, "Eliud Kipchoge Returns To Berlin Marathon In 2018 To Lower 2:03:05 Personal Best," 11 June 2018 His mother, the former Solange de Souza, was 60th in the 1996 Olympic marathon for Brazil. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "HS track and field: For these star Indiana prep athletes, it's in the genes," 30 May 2018 Dimitrov was 2 points from defeat against 21-year-old American Jared Donaldson but won, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8, in a marathon that lasted 4 hours 19 minutes and featured a couple of underhand serves by the cramping Donaldson. Howard Fendrich,, "Novak Djokovic fights to regain his championship form," 30 May 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

12 Nov 2018

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).


obstinately defiant of authority

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