Vocabulary of the Summer Olympics

The 2016 Olympic Games will begin this August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Learn this list of 28 words so you can keep up with each sport from start to finish.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. contestant
    a person who participates in competitions
    But he passed only four contestants down the lane of the 1 1/4-mile course for his poorest placement in seven starts.Los Angeles Times (Jun 25, 2016)
  2. nationality
    the status of belonging to a particular country
    Married to an Albanian woman, he acquired Albanian nationality last year.Washington Times (Jun 20, 2016)
  3. participant
    a person who takes part in or is skilled at some game
    He went to the club to for a meet and greet with some of the 336 participants at the outing.Washington Times (Jun 27, 2016)
  4. preliminary
    a minor match preceding the main event
    The 18-time Olympic champion advanced to the semifinals of the 200-meter butterfly at the U.S. swimming trials Tuesday with the fastest time in the preliminaries.US News (Jun 28, 2016)
  5. spectator
    a close observer; someone who looks at something
    Despite bad weather, 263,500 spectators attended the race weekend.Wall Street Journal (Jun 19, 2016)
  6. sponsor
    someone who supports or champions something
    Now, she's a professional athlete, albeit still oozing charisma, and sponsors are betting big bucks on her to succeed again.US News (Jun 29, 2016)
  7. sportsmanship
    fairness and courtesy in following the rules of a game
    The players are indulging in a handshake of sportsmanship, which will, of course, ensure impeccable behaviours.The Guardian (May 8, 2016)
  8. stamina
    enduring strength and energy
    Rugby is far more satisfying and fun, and it takes a lot more stamina.New York Times (Jun 17, 2016)
  9. endurance
    the power to withstand hardship or stress
    In recent history, when the Finals end with a for-it-all final showdown, the games are more battles of endurance than thrilling, free-flowing basketball.Washington Post (Jun 19, 2016)
  10. standing
    an ordered listing of scores or results showing the relative positions of competitors (individuals or teams) in a sporting event
    Here’s the latest standings on who’s in and who’s out.The Guardian (Jun 27, 2016)
  11. substitute
    an athlete who plays when a starter on the team is replaced
    He was then dropped against Albania, coming on as a substitute in the second half.Washington Times (Jun 20, 2016)
  12. venue
    the scene of any event or action
    The performance transformed the sold-out venue into a deafening celebration.Los Angeles Times (Jun 27, 2016)
  13. victory
    a successful ending of a struggle or contest
    The 18-time Olympic champion can punch his ticket to Rio on Wednesday with a victory in the 200 fly final.Reuters (Jun 29, 2016)
  14. decathlon
    an athletic contest consisting of ten different events
    Events for the decathlon are part of the first two days, while the heptathlon events are set for Friday and Saturday.Washington Times (Jun 8, 2016)
  15. hurdle
    a light barrier that competitors must leap over in races
    Instead, she ran the 60-meter hurdles and won, at which point someone leaked her test results to the press.New York Times (Jun 28, 2016)
    Sport: track and field
  16. archery
    the sport of shooting arrows with a bow
    There will be lake fishing, kayaking, archery and shooting sports, guided by expert instructors.Washington Times (Jun 3, 2016)
  17. opponent
    a contestant that you are matched against
    Put another way, how could such groups find so many people willing to die for their causes, while their opponents found so few?Salon (Jun 29, 2016)
  18. vault
    the act of jumping over an obstacle
    Then she felt a twinge in her knee while landing a vault during practice in early April.Washington Times (Jun 23, 2016)
    Sport: gymnastics; track and field
  19. equestrian
    of or relating to or featuring horseback riding
    When horseback riding was the dominant mode of transportation, equestrian shops were as common as fresh-pressed juice bars are today.New York Times (May 20, 2016)
  20. synchronized
    operating in unison
    And he delivered, doing some synchronized moves with several pros that really did make an impression.Los Angeles Times (Apr 12, 2016)
    In the summer, there is synchronized swimming. In the winter, there is synchronized ice skating.
  21. repechage
    a race (especially in rowing) in which runners-up in the eliminating heats compete for a place in the final race
    True, the loser will have another chance to qualify, in a repechage event next year.The Guardian (May 18, 2015)
  22. competitor
    the contestant you hope to defeat
    In the “weight over the bar” event, competitors can use only one hand to toss a 56-pound weight over a horizontal bar.Seattle Times (Jun 28, 2016)
  23. referee
    the official in a sport who is expected to ensure fair play
    “I thought he touched it with his hand. It was a difficult decision for the referee.”Seattle Times (Jun 25, 2016)
  24. disqualification
    unfitness that bars one from participation in an activity
    Failure to comply with these Official Rules may result in disqualification from the Contest.The Guardian (Jun 16, 2016)
  25. pommel
    a handgrip that a gymnast uses when performing exercises
    Jesse won gold in parallel bars, rings, vaulting table and pommel horse, silver in the high bar and bronze in floor exercise.Washington Times (Jun 12, 2016)
  26. en garde
    (fencing) in a defensive stance
    "So! En garde!" said his antagonist, throwing off his hat and putting up his weapon.Munro, Neil
  27. riposte
    a counterattack made immediately after successfully parrying
    It was the perfect riposte to anyone doubting his technique against the short ball and set the tone for a magnificent attacking century.BBC (Nov 23, 2013)
  28. somersault
    an acrobatic feat in which the feet roll over the head (either forward or backward) and return
    She tucked into a roll, turned the impact into a somersault, and came up standing.The Son of Neptune

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.