[ ath-leet ]
/ ˈæθ lit /


a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill.

Origin of athlete

1520–30; < Latin āthlēta < Greek āthlētḗs, equivalent to āthlē- (variant stem of āthleîn to contend for a prize, derivative of âthlos a contest) + -tēs suffix of agency

pronunciation note for athlete

Athlete, athletic, and athletics, normally pronounced [ath-leet] /ˈæθ lit/, [ath-let-ik] /æθˈlɛt ɪk/, and [ath-let-iks] /æθˈlɛt ɪks/, are heard frequently with an epenthetic schwa, an intrusive unstressed vowel inserted between the first and second syllables: [ath-uh-leet] /ˈæθ əˌlit/, [ath-uh-let-ik] /ˌæθ əˈlɛt ɪk/, and [ath-uh-let-iks] /ˌæθ əˈlɛt ɪks/. The pronunciations containing the extra syllable are usually considered nonstandard, in spite of their widespread use on radio and television. Pronunciations with similarly intrusive vowels are also heard, though with less currency, for other words, as [fil-uh m] /ˈfɪl əm/ for film, [el-uh m] /ˈɛl əm/ for elm, and [ahr-thuh-rahy-tis] /ˌɑr θəˈraɪ tɪs/ for arthritis, rather than the standard [film] /fɪlm/, [elm] /ɛlm/, and [ahr-thrahy-tis] /ɑrˈθraɪ tɪs/.


non·ath·lete, noun su·per·ath·lete, noun

Example sentences from the Web for athlete

British Dictionary definitions for athlete

/ (ˈæθliːt) /


a person trained to compete in sports or exercises involving physical strength, speed, or endurance
a person who has a natural aptitude for physical activities
mainly British a competitor in track and field events

Word Origin for athlete

C18: from Latin via Greek athlētēs, from athlein to compete for a prize, from athlos a contest