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 In something of a design triumph, set designer Jon Bausor, lighting designer Lucy Carter and sound designer Donato Wharton chill the audience by filling the auditorium with the thundering chaos of an avalanche. David Benedict, Variety, 7 Jan. 2022 These recent deaths are not part of the avalanche of heartbreaking news connected to covid-19. Washington Post, 29 Dec. 2021 Three of the skiers were buried by the avalanche, while another two were partly buried and able to free themselves, regional police said in a statement. NBC News, 6 Dec. 2021 There has often come a time in every game when Ohio State’s offense comes storming down like an avalanche, and there’s nothing an opponent can do about it. Stephen Means, cleveland, 27 Nov. 2021 Businesses are being overcome by an avalanche of data, with some estimates pointing to creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day. Sanjit Singh Dang, Forbes, 18 Oct. 2021 There also seems to be a growing avalanche of sour beers and beers with fruits, coffee and other flavor-enhancing, non-traditional ingredients. Gary Stoller, Forbes, 10 Sep. 2021 Eovaldi got hit by a Toronto avalanche, allowing seven runs on six hits in that inning alone. BostonGlobe.com, 6 Aug. 2021 Like a nightmarish avalanche, the failure quickly spread and brought down the entire center of the building. New York Times, 27 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And many of those paths, some of which are accessible from the Humphreys Peak trail, will avalanche every year. Shanti Lerner, The Arizona Republic, 4 Aug. 2021 Many of these rocks have avalanched from the walls of steep mountains. Anchorage Daily News, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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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Dictionary Entries Near avalanche



avalanche conduction

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Statistics for avalanche

Last Updated

13 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Avalanche.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avalanche. Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for avalanche



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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