Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A person possessing the natural or acquired traits, such as strength, agility, and endurance, that are necessary for physical exercise or sports, especially those performed in competitive contexts.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A participant in a group of sporting activities which includes track and field, road running, cross country running and racewalking.
  • n. A person who actively participates in physical sports, possibly highly skilled in sports. (Known in British English as a "sportsperson".)
  • n. An exceptionally physically fit person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who contended for a prize in the public games of ancient Greece or Rome.
  • n. Any one trained to contend in exercises requiring great physical agility and strength; one who has great activity and strength; a champion.
  • n. One fitted for, or skilled in, intellectual contests.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In Greek antiquity, one who contended for a prize in the public games.
  • n. Hence—2. Any one trained to exercises of agility and strength; one accomplished in athletics; a man full of strength and activity.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person trained to compete in sports

Etymologies

Middle English, from Latin āthlēta, from Greek āthlētēs, contestant, from āthlein, to contend, possibly from āthlos, contest.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek ἀθλητής (athlētēs), from ἀθλέω (athlēō, "compete for a prize"), from ἆθλον (athlon, "prize") or ἆθλος (athlos, "competition"). (Wiktionary)

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