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

Supreme Court President Donald Trump's pick for the high court has been around politics for years, runs marathons and teaches at Harvard. NBC News, "Who is Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh?," 10 July 2018 Campbell also had run a marathon in Manchester two weeks ago. Judith Vonberg, CNN, "UK Masterchef contestant dies in London Marathon," 23 Apr. 2018 Save them for, say, lifting weights, not running marathons. Jay Willis, GQ, "The Best Workout Shorts That You Can Get Away With Wearing Outside the Gym, Too," 13 Apr. 2018 The 2014 Sochi Games were a mess — just getting a room assignment felt like running a marathon. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "Winter Olympics postcard: Worst part about these Games? Yet to find it," 19 Feb. 2018 The path forward for the House and Senate bills is a marathon, not a sprint. Christine Grimaldi, Vogue, "Senators Introduce Legislation to Finally Repeal the Hyde Amendment and End Wide-Ranging Federal Abortion-Funding Ban," 12 Mar. 2019 Opportunity just finished its historic 14-year trek across the planet, running over a marathon and definitively discovering that Mars once held water. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "To Understand How the Earth Formed, and How It Might Disappear, NASA Is Drilling on Mars," 21 Feb. 2019 For years, the bridge district had allowed the annual marathon to cone off two of the northbound lanes to accommodate the popular run. Matier & Ross,, "This month’s SF Marathon runs into obstacle at Golden Gate Bridge," 1 July 2018 The top snowshoe racers in the country are able to complete marathons in about three-and-a-half hours, says Bucek, which is a blazing pace of 8 minutes per mile—something the majority of road marathoners never achieve. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "What Is Snowshoe Racing? A Look Inside the Niche and Challenging Winter Sport," 17 Oct. 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

16 Apr 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 affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

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