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

Aaron Fletcher, a South High graduate who has qualified for next year’s U.S. Olympic marathon trials, won the men’s community race in 9:01, beating two-time Olympic skier Erik Bjornsen by 14 seconds. Anchorage Daily News, "Big field of runners take advantage of beautiful day in 3K cross-country race," 15 Sep. 2019 Cillizza proclaimed Biden the main winner of the third Democratic debate, a three-hour marathon of mind-numbing bloviation in Houston. Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post, "Biden’s debate performance was either ‘presidential’ or ‘disqualifying’ — depending on your media source," 13 Sep. 2019 Inexplicably, climate change, despite its demonstrable importance to Democratic voters, isn’t getting the same treatment—even CNN’s marathon town hall couldn’t feature the candidates side by side, due to DNC restrictions. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "It’s Not That Hard to Have a Substantive Exchange About Global Warming," 13 Sep. 2019 Arnold, who recently broke the record for the fastest marathon run while pushing a three-person stroller, has been running for most of her life. Helen Murphy,, "Record-Breaking Mom Who Runs While Pushing 3 Kids in a Stroller Says They Nap During the Ride," 12 Sep. 2019 On Monday against Heritage, Carroll prevailed 11-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-20, 15-13 in a marathon win. Carroll County Times Staff,, "Carroll Varsity Roundup (Sept. 10): South Carroll volleyball ends long losing streak," 11 Sep. 2019 The same night, CNN aired a seven-hour marathon of interviews with 10 Democratic presidential candidates, exclusively focused on the global climate crisis. Katie Palmer, Quartz, "The Democrats aren’t trying to take away your light bulbs," 7 Sep. 2019 Still, the marathon forum offered an occasion for Democratic front-runners to showcase their distinct, and sometimes distracting, styles. Eren Orbey, The New Yorker, "The Growing Impatience for Action at CNN’s Climate-Change Town Halls," 5 Sep. 2019 Across the board, Orlando’s TV stations have built strong weather teams, and make no mistake, Dorian was a marathon team assignment over 10 days. Hal Boedeker,, "Hurricane Dorian: We could have been the Bahamas," 3 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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Statistics for marathon

Last Updated

17 Sep 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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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