The most grossly overemployed buzzword of our era? It has to be marathon, to describe anything implied to be long, overwhelming, stressful, and/or boring (which a 42+ kilometer jog is not, or need not be).

Examples seen in the press during the past fortnight include:

An entertaining experiment: search for "marathon" in your favorite well-indexed newspaper or wire service. Note how often the word occurs, not counting instances associated with 26.2 mile footraces (or proper nouns such as the Marathon Oil Corporation, the movie "Marathon Man", etc.). My unscientific survey last month found metaphorical marathons in more than a third of the daily issues of the New York Times and in over half of the of the Washington Post dailies. And the density seems to be rising.

A tricky challenge: design a boolean query for news media or web search engine which finds at least 80% of the appearances of "marathon" meaning 26.2 mile run, but retrieves fewer than 20% of the other usages of the term. Not easy, in my experience.

Finally, a modest proposal: reserve the word "marathon" for the classical plain in Greece and the footrace. For literary descriptions of lengthy and tiresome phenomena, try maracthonian --- from "mara" = evil spirit + "cthonian" = of the underworld. The demon of purple prose will certainly approve!

TopicRunning - TopicLanguage - TopicLiterature - TopicHumor - 2004-03-03

I like the challenge Mark. Words to filter on might include: finishing (as in finishing line), distance, mile(s), runner(s) competitor(s), 42, 26.

I'm sure that, having done some yourself you could think of others; swearing words maybe :-) -- DarrenNeimke

Try a search phrase similar to this (tested on Google):

"marathon", finishing, distance, mile OR kilometer, runner OR competitor, 42 OR 26 -- DarrenNeimke

Tnx, Darren! --- I'll try it ... looks promising, esp. in filtering out newspaper articles during the ongoing US Presidential election season ... Google News will make a good testbed ... - ^z

(correlates: VeryGood, SoTheySaid, FauxDumpster, ...)