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av·​a·​lanche ˈa-və-ˌlanch How to pronounce avalanche (audio)
: a large mass of snow, ice, earth, rock, or other material in swift motion down a mountainside or over a precipice
: a sudden great or overwhelming rush or accumulation of something
hit by an avalanche of paperwork
physics : a cumulative process in which photons or accelerated charge carriers produce additional photons or charge carriers through collisions (as with gas molecules)


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avalanched; avalanching

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
The unexpected firing of Sam Altman, OpenAI’s CEO, was followed by an avalanche of new AI features from competitors, including Anthropic and Stable Diffusion. Reece Rogers, WIRED, 22 Nov. 2023 She and other classmates are left to scroll through an avalanche of information — some of it inaccurate. Nicole Sganga, CBS News, 14 Nov. 2023 Edelman wakes up after this exchange to an avalanche of hate. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023 The Central Park encounter inspired the creation of Black Birders Week, an annual campaign to celebrate the lives and careers of Black birders, which then spurred an avalanche of similar initiatives in the sciences against the backdrop of a nationwide racial reckoning. Katrina Miller, New York Times, 1 Nov. 2023 There are two common approaches: the snowball method and the avalanche method. Kerri Anne Renzulli, wsj.com, 31 Oct. 2023 At the same time, the number of people skiing in uncontrolled backcountry terrain, where avalanches are most likely, has exploded in the past 20 years. WIRED, 11 Nov. 2023 Pleats, please Fashion’s current obsession with girlhood shows no sign of slowing down—peep the current avalanche of bows, rosettes, and flowy pleats on streets and catwalks alike. Jake Smith, Glamour, 27 Oct. 2023 On Saturday, a total of 52 climbers were pushing for the summit when the avalanches hit, including from the United States, Britain, Romania, Albania, Italy, Japan and Pakistan. Reuters, NBC News, 10 Oct. 2023
The distinctive light green of aspen leaves in summer, set off from the deep greens of conifers such as lodgepole pines, frequently marks the zones where winter snow is unstable and tends to avalanche. Michael C Grant, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 James and the Lakers were getting avalanched, but a run to undo a 17-point deficit got them to within a point before the Memphis Grizzlies smothered them with a barrage of baskets. Houston Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 27 Apr. 2023 The hillsides along Summit Lake will avalanche. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, 10 Apr. 2022 That a bunch of boys will insincerely avalanche into girls sports in order to gain some competitive advantage, to slake some hearty thirst for winning? Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 Feb. 2022 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 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'avalanche.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use


1744, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1826, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of avalanche was in 1744

Dictionary Entries Near avalanche

Cite this Entry

“Avalanche.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avalanche. Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a large mass of snow and ice or of earth and rock sliding down a mountainside
: a sudden large amount
an avalanche of words
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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