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

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 In a case of remarkable timing, Maraniss' biography lands in the wake of the International Olympic Committee's recent action fully restoring Thorpe as gold medal winner of the decathlon and pentathlon in 1912. Jim Higgins, Journal Sentinel, 4 Aug. 2022 In addition to football, Thorpe played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon. Jason Beede, Orlando Sentinel, 25 July 2022 The International Olympic Committee on Friday reinstated Jim Thorpe as the gold medal winner of the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. Grayson Quay, The Week, 16 July 2022 Native American athlete Jim Thorpe was reinstated as the sole winner of the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Olympics after the medals were stripped a year following the event. Alexandra Schonfeld,, 15 July 2022 Thorpe headed to the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm to compete in the decathlon and another now-defunct track contest, the pentathlon. New York Times, 15 July 2022 The Indiana University heptathlete and pentathlete won six Big Ten championships and was the NCAA runner-up in the 1990 pentathlon. Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, 23 June 2022 After winning the girls’ pole vault (11-6) and the outdoor pentathlon (3,313 points) on Thursday, Westford Academy senior Megan Frazee added a third state championship. Cam Kerry,, 4 June 2022 Thorpe, a Sac and Fox/Potawatomi citizen, was stripped of his gold medals for the pentathlon and decathlon after losing his amateur status based on playing baseball in North Carolina. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 6 June 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of pentathlon was in 1603

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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pentathlon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for pentathlon


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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