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a suffix extracted from marathon, occurring as the final element in compounds which have the general sense “an event, as a sale or contest, drawn out to unusual length, often until a prearranged goal, as the contribution of a certain amount of money, is reached”: walkathon; readathon .
Also, -a-thon, -thon. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Word Origin and History for -athon

also -thon, word-forming element denoting prolonged activity and usually some measure of endurance, abstracted from marathon. E.g. walkathon (1931), skatathon (1933); talkathon (1948); telethon (1949).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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