Definitions

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

  • n. Sports A cross-country footrace of 26 miles, 385 yards (42.195 kilometers).
  • n. Sports A long-distance race other than a footrace: a swimming marathon.
  • n. A contest of endurance: a dance marathon.
  • n. An event or activity that requires prolonged effort or endurance.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A 42.195 kilometre (26 mile 385 yard) road race.
  • n. Any extended or sustained activity.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A footrace of 26 miles 385 yards.
  • n. Any long and arduous undertaking, straining the endurance of the participants.
  • n. a battle in 490 BC in which the Athenians and their allies defeated the Persians.

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

  • n. a battle in 490 BC in which the Athenians and their allies defeated the Persians
  • n. a footrace of 26 miles 385 yards
  • n. any long and arduous undertaking

Etymologies

After Marathon (so called because a messenger ran from there to Athens to announce a victory over the Persians in 490 B.C.)
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Ancient Greek Μαραθών (Marathōn), a town northeast of Athens. Phidippides the Greek ran the distance from Marathon to Athens to deliver a message regarding the Battle of Marathon. The modern sport of marathon running is based on a run approximately the same distance. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Marathon Query I'm curious how the usage of the term marathon and derivatives evolved in your publications ....

    Brudirect News1

  • Marathon Query I'm curious how the usage of the term marathon and derivatives evolved in your ...

    Brudirect News1

  • Fogle's athletic aspirations and weight management aside, his participation in the marathon is all about promoting Subway sandwiches as fuel for fast runners.

    Is that right? Jared's running a marathon?

  • From the fabled story of Phidippides and the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. to Spiridon Louis 'unforeseen 1896 Athens Olympic marathon triumph, the marathon is a part of our history.

    USATODAY.com - Polias knows what it means to be a Greek marathoner

  • Several months ago, Mr. Nihous started what he called his "marathon" across France to gather the required signatures.

    NYT > Home Page

  • He wrote the 571-page tome in short "marathon" bursts while working as a cancer researcher by day, because, he says, wanted to see the whole picture of the disease he worked with in minute detail.

    Thestar.com - Home Page

  • The deal to extricate the Treasury from its American International Group Inc. investment was hammered out in marathon meetings this week.

    A Seed of an Idea, Negotiations, Then Waiting for Moody's to Call

  • Sept. 4: Spike's Band of Brothers marathon is well worth the time

    Critic's Corner: TV Show Reviews and Suggestions from Robert Bianco

  • After suffering agonies of embarrassment over a news report the Marine Corp Marathon had rebuffed the RtRSa/oF's offer to join hands and share potties this coming weekend -- the marathon is set for the next morning -- the organizers of Stewart's rally have rebounded in a big way, hiring what may be the largest portable toilet company in the country, United Site Services, to provide relief to Saturday's rally attendees.

    Jon Stewart's rally porta-potties trickling in now

  • The thing with the marathon is that the audience doesn't get to see the whole floor, especially for those watching at home.

    Dancing's Maks: We Want to Stay on Top

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