av·​a·​lanche | \ ˈa-və-ˌlanch How to pronounce avalanche (audio) \

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

Noun He was buried by an avalanche.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Trojans left little doubt, scoring all 38 points in the first half with an avalanche of 349 yards of offense before halftime. Kyle Neddenriep, The Indianapolis Star, "In a year full of uncertainty, one thing is certain: Center Grove is Indiana's best.," 28 Nov. 2020 But the order did not affect the counting of ballots that is proceeding in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, as elections officials are dealing with an avalanche of mail ballots driven by fears of voting in person during a pandemic. The Salt Lake Tribune, "With counting winding down, Trump team pushes legal fights," 5 Nov. 2020 Suddenly, a massive earthquake struck, triggering an avalanche that destroyed much of Base Camp below them and burying Everest in tragedy for the second climbing season in a row. Eva Holland, Outside Online, "Two Books Show the Good and Bad of Everest Obsession," 13 Nov. 2020 An avalanche of academic papers published since the start of the pandemic is broadening and deepening our understanding of the interplay between disease outbreaks and the economy. Jason Douglas, WSJ, "Research Ties Curbing the Covid-19 Pandemic to Saving the Economy," 10 Nov. 2020 That whiff of elitism and arrogance arrived via an avalanche of titles during the John Wooden era. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Aztecs finally hurdle UCLA’s longtime scheduling resistance," 10 Nov. 2020 One coach tested positive, a team paused workouts and a game has been postponed after an avalanche of pandemic news spread through the Power 5 conference. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, "SEC rocked by COVID-19 on Monday: Here’s what we know and how it impacts Alabama, Auburn, schedule," 9 Nov. 2020 The morning after the election, social media generated an avalanche of claims about Wisconsin voting totals, timing and turnout. Eric Litke, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Fact check: Wisconsin did not 'find' 100K ballots around 4 a.m. the morning after the election, or take break from counting votes," 4 Nov. 2020 Nearly half the board elected in 2016 opted to not seek re-election this time around, and the seven board races attracted an avalanche of candidates, with 20 people vying for the spots. Della Hasselle, NOLA.com, "Incumbent John Brown, newcomer Olin Parker elected to Orleans Parish School Board; 5 races headed to runoff," 4 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Many of these rocks have avalanched from the walls of steep mountains. Anchorage Daily News, "Dirty glaciers all over the world," 16 Nov. 2019 Early pioneers of universality, led by the physicist Leo Kadanoff, discovered that systems as different as avalanching sand piles and magnetizing metals all operate on multiple scales. Quanta Magazine, "Bubble Experiment Finds Universal Laws," 31 July 2019 Just look at any photo of Gritty: his lidless, spinning eyes; his inert tongue; his unshaven beard which avalanches over his collarbone, like a Portland bartender’s. Jason Gay, WSJ, "The Fuzzy Terror of Sports Mascots," 27 Sep. 2018 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

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for avalanche

Time Traveler

The first known use of avalanche was in 1744

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Statistics for avalanche

Last Updated

2 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Avalanche.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avalanche. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for avalanche


How to pronounce avalanche (audio)

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 How to pronounce avalanche (audio) \

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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