-athon After a vowel -thon.
An event long in duration, usually for fund-raising purposes.
[The last part of marathon, from Marathōn in Greece, the scene of a victory over the Persians in 490 BC.]
From the 1930s onwards, the ending of marathon was borrowed, originally in the US, to form words relating to some charitable activity. The first examples were walkathon, a long-distance walk organized as a fund-raising event, and radiothon, a prolonged radio broadcast by a person or group, similarly to raise money. Many examples have been created since, of which telethon, a long television programme to raise money for charity, has gone furthest towards general acceptance. Others are operathon, a marathon performance of opera; preachathon, an extended sermon; and swimathon, a sponsored swimming event. Some examples are facetious terms indicating an unreasonably extended happening, such as boreathon, an interminable occasion; plugathon, an extended advertisement for a product or person; and excuseathon, an over-extended apology for some mishap.