There is a book titled Running for Mortals. I didn't recognize word mortal. Then I looked up it and get the meaning as below.

mortal N - A human being

I wonder, is mortal widely used as human being or it is used only for special areas like sports, medical, etc?

2 Answers 2


The word mortal is used to describe people in contrast to immortals, beings that cannot die, such as gods or similar entities in works of fiction or myth. You wouldn’t use the word mortal to refer to humans in any context except one where humans were being either implicitly or explicitly compared to gods.

The book title Running for Mortals is kind of a joke, implying that unlike other books containing advice and instruction for runners that are only applicable to those with godlike ability, stamina, and discipline, this book can be used by mere mortals.

  • @All, Thank you. Actually I already ordered two books (another one is Marathoning for Mortals)yesterday via online store. The international package will delivered to me about 20 days later. Really want to read it right now.
    – Nano HE
    Dec 16, 2010 at 2:21
  • This way of using the word mortals is probably a result of the influences of ancient Greek culture, in which human beings were often referred to as mortals, with implied contrast to gods. Until a couple of generations ago, some exposure to ancient Greek culture was a standard feature of general education, so this way of referring to humans was familiar to many educated people.
    – jsw29
    Jun 2, 2021 at 17:13

The word "mortal" means "subject to death," meaning if one can be killed, one is mortal. It does not apply specifically to any one topic.

The title Running for Mortals is a nod to the notion that hardcore distance runners are "superhuman."

  • 3
    @Nano: Sometimes, you'd encounter things like "could you explain it in a way mere mortals like me would understand?" ; the speaker is essentially imploring the one being talked to to explain more clearly, hopefully using less jargon.
    – user730
    Dec 16, 2010 at 1:04
  • @J.M. Thanks for your suggestion and statement sample.
    – Nano HE
    Dec 16, 2010 at 2:06

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