The first time I came across the word ‘snoreathon’, I fell about laughing. It’s so amusing and evocative.
How was the match / the movie / your date?
A total snoreathon.
You glue a bit of ancient Greek place name to an onomatopoeic middle English verb and you got it: mind-deadening please-make-it-stop tedium beyond endurance.
As you probably know, the marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards), usually run as a road race. ‘It represents the ultimate athletic effort —where the human body, mind and soul are tested to their limits,” in the words of The Athens Marathon. The race was named in commemoration of the mad dash of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, who according to legend was sent as a messenger from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens, to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC), in which he had just fought. It is said that Pheidippides ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the Athenian assembly shouting ‘we have won’, whereupon he dropped dead.
To go back even further, the name Marathon refers to the herb fennel, called marathon or marathos in Ancient Greek. The place is believed to have been named for the abundance of fennel plants in the area.
There’s more – lots more – about the battle and the place and the race at Wikipedia, where I went to refresh my memory.
What I find particularly interesting is how ‘-athon’ has been detached from ‘marathon’ and stuck on to all sorts of other words to express the idea of long and arduous, a test of endurance.
The first -athon word appears to have been telethon, which presumably started life as a blend of television and marathon. As tele- is used in many other words (telephone, telepathy, telescope etc) and vision, of course, is a word in its own right, -athon was felt to be a separate suffix or combining form which could be added to all sorts of other words.
Blogathons, drinkathons and swimmathons are only the beginning. There’s a growing number of hilarious –athon words out there. Which ones have you seen?