pen·​tath·​lon | \ pen-ˈtath-lən How to pronounce pentathlon (audio) , -ˌlän, nonstandard -ˈta-thə- \

Definition of pentathlon

: an athletic contest involving participation by each contestant in five different events especially : modern pentathlon

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Did You Know?

The Greek word athlos means "contest or trial", so to be an athlete you had to compete in physical contests. The ancient Greek pentathlon tested warriors' skills in sprinting, long jumping, javelin throwing, discus throwing, and wrestling, none of which are part of today's Olympic pentathlon. But a pentathlete must still have muscles and reflexes suited to almost any kind of physical feat.

Examples of pentathlon in a Sentence

the winner of the Olympic pentathlon
Recent Examples on the Web La La Anthony is one of those rare entertainers who could qualify for a show biz pentathlon. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "Bitcoin is ‘the new gold’ says La La Anthony—and it could go to $150,000," 31 Mar. 2021 Jake Risch, who helped envisioned the 20th Tuckerman Inferno pentathlon course, wouldn’t deny it., "Are the competitors at the Tuckerman Inferno crazy? ‘It’s a matter of perspective’," 27 Mar. 2021 Brianne Theisen-Eaton won the 2010 NCAA pentathlon title as the Ducks finished with 61 team points, far in front of Tennessee, second with 36. oregonlive, "Two-time Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton heads 2020 induction class for UO Athletics Hall of Fame," 2 July 2020 The Mitch Modin vlog includes a Q-and-A with 2019 NCAA indoor pentathlon champ Michelle Athlerley. oregonlive, "Sports as we knew them disappeared this spring, and never will be the same: Oregon track & field rundown," 4 June 2020 Aryssa Sinclair, 13, made strides competing in the pentathlon while Mariah Samarco, 9, improved in the 800 and 1500 meter run. Alex Kushel,, "Boynton track club trio blitz to top efforts at national meet," 7 July 2018 Right fielder Jim Thorpe, the 1912 Olympic decathlon and pentathlon champion, stepped to the plate. Mark Schmetzer,, "Top games in Cincinnati Reds history: No. 38 – A pitcher's duel for the ages in 1917," 12 June 2019 There, Meiler took home an impressive seven medals in the 80-85 age division, including five golds (pole vault, pentathlon, high jump, hurdles, and the 4x200-meter relay) and two silvers (triple jump and long jump). Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Meet Flo Filion Meiler, the 84-Year-Old Track and Field Athlete With Over 775 Medals," 26 Apr. 2019 Playing against the University of Pittsburgh in 1911, the future Olympic gold medalist in both the decathlon and pentathlon blasted a long arching punt from near his own goal line. WSJ, "Five Best: Gordon Marino," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pentathlon.' 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 pentathlon

1603, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pentathlon

Greek, from penta- + athlon contest

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Time Traveler for pentathlon

Time Traveler

The first known use of pentathlon was in 1603

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Statistics for pentathlon

Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pentathlon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for pentathlon



English Language Learners Definition of pentathlon

: a sports contest for men that consists of five different events


pen·​tath·​lon | \ pen-ˈtath-lən How to pronounce pentathlon (audio) , -ˌlän \

Kids Definition of pentathlon

: an athletic contest in which each person participates in five different events

More from Merriam-Webster on pentathlon

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pentathlon Encyclopedia article about pentathlon

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