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 Businesses included Backcountry Denim, Backcountry Nitro coffee, and even the company Constellation Outdoor Education, which trademarked the name Backcountry Babes for clinics offering women-focused avalanche education courses. Frederick Reimers, Outside Online, "Why Thousands of People Are Mad at Backcountry," 6 Nov. 2019 So a majestic bowl — that would otherwise present severe avalanche danger — can be made safe for expert skiers in one of the most beautiful settings in Colorado skiing. John Meyer, The Know, "3 ways to score free season passes at Colorado ski resorts," 1 Nov. 2019 Trump would later cave under an avalanche of criticism on Saturday, abruptly canceling those plans. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Easiest Impeachment Inquiry of All Time," 20 Oct. 2019 In barely two weeks’ time, under an avalanche of disclosures in news stories and Trump’s damaging admissions, House Democrats called for an impeachment inquiry, posing the gravest threat yet to his presidency. Jonathan Lemire, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Analysis: Trump’s old ways colliding with new realities," 6 Oct. 2019 Mind you, Pringle and Ward patterned the bill after similar laws in Tennessee and Florida, which haven’t ground to a halt under an avalanche of public information requests. al, "Hey, Alabama, public data are public documents, too," 18 Aug. 2019 There’s a certain price to be paid, though: The plotline tends to get buried under an avalanche of gloss. Dominic P. Papatola, Twin Cities, "Review: ’42nd Street’s new digs at the Ordway are fresh, funky, flashy," 26 July 2019 Often obscured under the avalanche of news and the clouds of intrigue, President Trump and his appointees continue to systematically deconstruct the administrative state. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Five overshadowed stories spotlight Trump’s domestic priorities," 8 May 2018 Ahead by 24 early in the third, the Heat unraveled, buried under an avalanche of 76ers rebounds, second-chance points and jump shots in a 104-102 loss that sent Miami into the All Star break losers of seven of its last eight. Barry Jackson, miamiherald, "Heat squanders huge lead, loses to 76ers," 14 Feb. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about avalanche

Time Traveler for avalanche

Time Traveler

The first known use of avalanche was in 1744

See more words from the same year

Statistics for avalanche

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Avalanche.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avalanched. Accessed 22 November 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


not agreeing with established beliefs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!