An athlete is someone who trains for and competes in sporting events, as a professional or just for fun, like an athlete who bowls on a team, runs in local 5K races, or wins a gold medal at the Olympics.

The noun athlete comes from the Greek word athletes, meaning “contestant in the games.” Anyone who competes in sporting competitions can be called an athlete, but usually the term is reserved for people with a high level of dedication, skill and fitness. If your income comes from participating in your sport, you are a professional athlete.

Definitions of athlete
  1. noun
    a person trained to compete in sports
    synonyms: jock
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    Richard D. Fosbury
    United States athlete who revolutionized the high jump by introducing the Fosbury flop in the 1968 Olympics (born in 1947)
    Robert Bruce Mathias
    United States athlete who won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon (born in 1930)
    James Cleveland Owens
    United States athlete and Black American whose success in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin outraged Hitler (1913-1980)
    James Francis Thorpe
    outstanding United States athlete (1888-1953)
    Mildred Ella Didrikson Zaharias
    outstanding United States athlete (1914-1956)
    Henry Louis Aaron
    United States professional baseball player who hit more home runs than Babe Ruth (born in 1934)
    Arthur Robert Ashe
    United States tennis player who was the first Black to win United States and English singles championships (1943-1993)
    Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister
    English runner who in 1954 became the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes (born in 1929)
    Lawrence Peter Berra
    United States baseball player (born 1925)
    John Donald Budge
    United States tennis player who in 1938 was the first to win the Australian and French and English and United States singles championship in the same year (1915-2000)
    Maureen Catherine Connolly
    United States tennis player who was the first woman to win the United States, British, French, and Australian championships in the same year (1953) (1934-1969)
    James Scott Connors
    outstanding United States tennis player (born in 1952)
    Margaret Court
    Australian woman tennis player who won many major championships (born in 1947)
    Dwight Filley Davis
    United States tennis player who donated the Davis Cup for international team tennis competition (1879-1945)
    Joseph Paul DiMaggio
    United States professional baseball player noted for his batting ability (1914-1999)
    Gertrude Caroline Ederle
    United States swimmer who in 1926 became the first woman to swim the English Channel (1906-2003)
    Julius Winfield Erving
    United States basketball forward (born in 1950)
    Christine Marie Evert
    United States tennis player who won women's singles titles in the United States and at Wimbledon (born in 1954)
    Henry Louis Gehrig
    baseball player who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (1903-1941)
    Althea Gibson
    United States tennis player who was the first Black woman player to win all the major world singles titles (1927-2003)
    Stephanie Graf
    German tennis player who won seven women's singles titles at Wimbledon (born in 1969)
    Wayne Gretzky
    high-scoring Canadian ice-hockey player (born in 1961)
    Sir Edmund Percival Hillary
    New Zealand mountaineer who in 1953 first attained the summit of Mount Everest with his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay (born in 1919)
    John Berry Hobbs
    notable English cricketer (1882-1963)
    Gordie Howe
    Canadian hockey player who holds the record for playing the most games (born 1928)
    Sir Leonard Hutton
    English cricketer (1916-1990)
    Billie Jean Moffitt King
    United States woman tennis player (born in 1943)
    Olga Korbut
    Soviet gymnast (born in 1955)
    Rodney George Laver
    Australian tennis player who in 1962 was the second man to win the Australian and French and English and United States singles titles in the same year; in 1969 he repeated this feat (born in 1938)
    Ivan Lendl
    United States tennis player (born in Czechoslovakia) who won several singles championships; in 1992 he became a United States citizen (born in 1960)
    Frederick Carleton Lewis
    United States athlete who won gold medals at the Olympics for his skill in sprinting and jumping (born in 1961)
    Mickey Charles Mantle
    United States baseball player (1931-1997)
    Willie Howard Mays Jr.
    United States baseball player (born in 1931)
    John Joseph McGraw
    United States baseball player and manager (1873-1934)
    Helen Newington Wills
    United States tennis player who dominated women's tennis in the 1920s and 1930s (1905-1998)
    Stanley Frank Musial
    United States baseball player (born in 1920)
    Martina Navratilova
    United States tennis player (born in Czechoslovakia) who won nine Wimbledon women's singles championships (born in 1956)
    Robert Orr
    Canadian hockey player (born 1948)
    Leroy Robert Paige
    United States baseball player; a black pitcher noted for his longevity (1906-1982)
    Oscar Palmer Robertson
    United States basketball guard (born in 1938)
    Jack Roosevelt Robinson
    United States baseball player; first Black to play in the major leagues (1919-1972)
    William Felton Russell
    United States basketball center (born in 1934)
    George Herman Ruth
    United States professional baseball player famous for hitting home runs (1895-1948)
    Monica Seles
    United States tennis player (born in Yugoslavia in 1973)
    Tenzing Norgay
    Sherpa mountaineer guide who with Sir Edmund Hillary was one of the first to attain the summit of Mount Everest (1914-1986)
    William Tatem Tilden Jr.
    United States tennis player who dominated men's tennis in the 1920s (1893-1953)
    Virginia Wade
    English tennis player who won many women's singles titles (born in 1945)
    John Walker
    New Zealand runner who in 1975 became the first person to run a mile in less that 3 minutes and 50 seconds (born in 1952)
    Theodore Samuel Williams
    United States baseball player noted as a hitter (1918-2002)
    Carl Yastrzemski
    United States baseball player (born in 1939)
    Danton True Young
    United States baseball player and famous pitcher (1867-1955)
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    an athlete who performs acts requiring skill and agility and coordination
    an athlete who does not play for pay
    ball hawk
    a team athlete who is skilled at stealing or catching the ball
    ballplayer, baseball player
    an athlete who plays baseball
    basketball player, basketeer, cager
    an athlete who plays basketball
    someone who climbs as a sport; especially someone who climbs mountains
    an athlete who plays cricket
    football player, footballer
    an athlete who plays American football
    an athlete who is skilled in gymnastics
    hockey player, ice-hockey player
    an athlete who plays hockey
    (rugby) the player in the middle of the front row of the scrum who tries to capture the ball with the foot
    an athlete who runs the hurdles
    an athlete who competes at jumping
    lacrosse player
    an athlete who plays lacrosse
    an athlete who has earned a letter in a school sport
    an athlete who participates in the Olympic games
    an athlete who competes in a pentathlon
    pro, professional
    an athlete who plays for pay
    a trained athlete who competes in foot races
    an athlete noted for accurate aim
    shot putter
    an athlete who competes in the shot put
    someone who skates
    someone who skis
    someone who rides a sled
    soccer player
    an athlete who plays soccer
    sport, sportsman, sportswoman
    someone who engages in sports
    a forward on a soccer team
    reserve, second-stringer, substitute
    an athlete who plays only when a starter on the team is replaced
    a trained athlete who participates in swimming meets
    someone who swings sports implements
    tennis player
    an athlete who plays tennis
    pole jumper, pole vaulter, vaulter
    an athlete who jumps over a high crossbar with the aid of a long pole
    lifter, weightlifter
    an athlete who lifts barbells
    (sports) player in wing position
    an acrobat who performs in the air (as on a rope or trapeze)
    (football) a person who plays in the backfield
    someone who swims the backstroke
    an acrobat who balances himself in difficult positions
    ball carrier, runner
    (football) the player who is carrying (and trying to advance) the ball on an offensive play
    base runner, runner
    a baseball player on the team at bat who is on base (or attempting to reach a base)
    batsman, batter, hitter, slugger
    (baseball) a ballplayer who is batting
    bench warmer
    (sports) a substitute who seldom plays
    a football player whose responsibility is to block players attempting to stop an offensive play
    bounder, leaper
    someone who bounds or leaps (as in competition)
    a cricketer who delivers the ball to the batsman in cricket
    someone who swims the breaststroke
    (basketball) the person who plays center on a basketball team
    (ice hockey) the person who plays center on a hockey team
    circus acrobat
    an acrobat who performs acrobatic feats in a circus
    an acrobat able to twist into unusual positions
    a defensive football player stationed outside the linebackers
    diver, plunger
    someone who dives (into water)
    a basketball player who is dribbling the ball to advance it
    a basketball player who is able to make dunk shots
    someone who gains access by the use of ladders
    fielder, fieldsman
    a member of the cricket team that is fielding rather than batting
    a member of the baseball team that is in the field instead of at bat
    football hero
    a football player who has achieved a reputation for success
    the person who plays the position of forward in certain games, such as basketball, soccer, or hockey
    free agent
    (sports) a professional athlete who is free to sign a contract to play for any team
    funambulist, tightrope walker
    an acrobat who performs on a tightrope or slack rope
    goalie, goalkeeper, goaltender, netkeeper, netminder
    the soccer or hockey player assigned to protect the goal
    the person who plays the position of guard on a basketball team
    someone who hops
    someone who engages in ice skating
    a player who kicks the football
    a cross-country skier
    line backer, linebacker
    a defensive football player who takes a position close behind the linemen
    one of the players on the line of scrimmage
    little leaguer
    a player between 8 and 12 years of age who is a member of a little-league team
    luger, slider
    someone who races the luge
    big leaguer, major leaguer
    a member of a major-league baseball team
    long-distance runner, marathon runner, marathoner, road runner
    someone who participates in long-distance races (especially in marathons)
    a runner in a one-mile race
    bush leaguer, minor leaguer
    a player on a minor-league baseball team
    mountain climber, mountaineer
    someone who climbs mountains
    pinch hitter
    (baseball) a substitute for the regular batter
    hurler, pitcher, twirler
    (baseball) the person who does the pitching
    pass catcher, pass receiver, receiver
    a football player who catches (or is supposed to catch) a forward pass
    the tennis player who receives the serve
    cragsman, rock climber
    a climber of vertical rock faces
    someone who engages in roller skating
    semipro, semiprofessional
    an athlete who plays for pay on a part-time basis
    someone who skates on a skateboard
    ski jumper
    a skier who leaps through the air (especially on a ski jump)
    a naked swimmer
    outdoor man, sporting man
    someone who enjoys outdoor activities
    someone who runs a short distance at top speed
    a football player who tackles the ball carrier
    professional tennis player, tennis pro
    someone who earns a living playing or teaching tennis
    someone who rides a toboggan
    a gymnast who performs rolls and somersaults and twists etc.
    utility man
    a baseball player valued for the ability to play at several positions
    stands behind the wicket to catch balls
    a hockey player stationed in a forward position on either side
    type of:
    a person who participates in competitions
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘athlete'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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