av·a·lanche | \ˈa-və-ˌlanch \

Definition of avalanche 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a large mass of snow, ice, earth, rock, or other material in swift motion down a mountainside or over a precipice

2 : a sudden great or overwhelming rush or accumulation of something hit by an avalanche of paperwork

3 physics : a cumulative process in which photons or accelerated charge carriers produce additional photons or charge carriers through collisions (as with gas molecules)


avalanched; avalanching

Definition of avalanche (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to descend in an avalanche Snow avalanched down the mountain.

transitive verb

: overwhelm, flood The office was avalanched with applications.

Examples of avalanche in a Sentence


He was buried by an avalanche.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The prime minister's family launched the campaign after Trudeau's youngest brother, Michel, died in an avalanche in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park in 1998. Fox News, "Woman says Trudeau apologized after encounter in 2000," 7 July 2018 The annual festival was raising funds for the Avalanche Foundation, in which the Trudeau family became active after Michel Trudeau, the Prime Minister's brother, died in an avalanche in Kokanee, reported the National Post. Rebecca Tan, chicagotribune.com, "Justin Trudeau responds to groping allegations: 'I don't remember any negative interactions'," 2 July 2018 In 1993, her boyfriend at the time, Mark Bebie, died in an avalanche while ice climbing in the Canadian Rockies. Sam Roberts, New York Times, "Charlotte Fox, 61, Trailblazing Alpinist and Everest Survivor, Dies," 8 June 2018 Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, 100 miles northwest of Tokyo, erupted in January, killing one soldier in an avalanche. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Volcanoes are awe-inspiring. Here are 7 things to know about them.," 11 May 2018 In 1987, when Guthrie dies tragically in an avalanche while climbing in Alaska, Redford derails. Jayme Moye, Outside Online, "A Climbing Memoir with More Agony Than Ecstasy," 8 May 2018 Faced with the potential for stratospheric statutory damages, streaming services are burying the Copyright Office in an avalanche of paperwork. Robert Levine, Billboard, "Death By a Thousand Papercuts: How Streaming Services Protect Themselves From Lawsuits by Burying the Copyright Office in Paperwork," 12 Apr. 2018 Ian Francis Fair of Winthrop, Washington, age 36, died Sunday, March 4, 2018 in an avalanche while skiing with his partner, Stephanie Bennett, and friends in the North Cascades Mountains. courant.com, "IAN F. FAIR," 22 Mar. 2018 Eight other people were partially buried in the avalanche. CBS News, "GoPro footage captures avalanche trapping snowboarder on California mountain," 6 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Conspiracy mogul Alex Jones’s gruff voice avalanched out of the speakers and declared war on globalists and labeled Hillary Clinton a criminal who needed to be locked away. Longreads, "The RNC, Revisited," 31 Oct. 2017 Licht got avalanched for dealing third-round and fourth-round picks in 2016 to move into the second round to draft a kicker. Peter King, SI.com, "Monday Morning QB: Bucs GM Jason Licht ‘Owning Up’ to Roberto Aguayo Mistake," 14 Aug. 2017 After being fourth in team defense in 2014 under Jim Schwartz, Rex Ryan’s unit got avalanched the past two seasons, finishing 19th twice with uglier analytics measurables than that. Peter King, The MMQB, "Peter King: The NFL's strongest division is...," 22 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'avalanche.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of avalanche


1744, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1826, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for avalanche


French, from French dialect (Franco-Provençal) lavantse, avalantse


see avalanche entry 1

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Statistics for avalanche

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for avalanche

The first known use of avalanche was in 1744

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English Language Learners Definition of avalanche

: a large amount of snow and ice or of dirt and rocks that slides suddenly down the side of a mountain

: a sudden great amount of something


av·a·lanche | \ˈa-və-ˌlanch \

Kids Definition of avalanche

: a large mass of snow and ice or of earth or rock sliding down a mountainside or over a cliff

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Comments on avalanche

What made you want to look up avalanche? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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