av·​a·​tar | \ ˈa-və-ˌtär How to pronounce avatar (audio) \

Definition of avatar

1 : the incarnation of a Hindu deity (such as Vishnu)
2a : an incarnation in human form
b : an embodiment (as of a concept or philosophy) often in a person She was regarded as an avatar of charity and concern for the poor.
3 : a variant phase or version of a continuing basic entity the latest avatar of the conservative movement
4 : an electronic image that represents and may be manipulated by a computer user (as in a game)

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Did You Know?

Avatar derives from a Sanskrit word meaning "descent," and when it first appeared in English in the late 18th century, it referred to the descent of a deity to the earth—typically, the incarnation in earthly form of Vishnu or another Hindu deity. It later came to refer to any incarnation in human form, and then to any embodiment (such as that of a concept or philosophy), whether or not in the form of a person. In the age of technology, avatar has developed another sense—it can now be used for the image that a person chooses as his or her "embodiment" in an electronic medium.

Examples of avatar in a Sentence

She has come to be regarded as an avatar of charity and concern for the poor. She chose a penguin as her personal avatar in the chat room.
Recent Examples on the Web The #LoveIsLove frame would not cross this particular threshold; straight allies did not wash their social media avatars in rainbows with the banner #WorkIsWork. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "Culture War in the Workplace," 13 Jan. 2020 The online duel began after Hong Kong players discovered that their in-game avatars could dress like protesters, wearing black clothing, gas masks and yellow safety helmets. Isaac Yee, CNN, "Grand Theft Auto V becomes latest battleground of Hong Kong protests," 27 Dec. 2019 Giving three of the four lead avatars new personalities was a considerable risk given how well the first movie did. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, "Why 'Jumanji' Director Jake Kasdan Chose That End-Credits Scene," 16 Dec. 2019 The things that made the first so fun – the dangerous use of cake, dance fighting to Peter Frampton and The Rock’s deployment of his avatar’s smoldering intensity – are dutifully repeated. Mark Kennedy, Detroit Free Press, "‘Jumanji’ franchise sticks with winning formula in ‘Next Level’," 12 Dec. 2019 Some of the avatar-swapping can lead to moments in poor taste, but for the most part, the talented cast and clever identity reassignments succeed hilariously. Mary Sollosi, EW.com, "Jumanji: The Next Level brings laughs but doesn’t set a new high score: Review," 10 Dec. 2019 Pokémon’s annual Halloween adventure, featuring a Shiny Yamask and avatar costumes, runs through Nov. 1. Saja Hindi, The Denver Post, "Pokémon Go players crashed Loveland wedding, leading city to ask people for courtesy," 15 Oct. 2019 Genies unique avatar technology allows users to express ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Rob Schwartz, Billboard, "Namie Amuro's Videos Streaming For First Time, With Help of an Avatar," 20 Sep. 2019 Spencer, the poor kid who’s having his quarter-life crisis a little early, doesn’t get to pick Smolder Bravestone as his avatar again. Kerry Lengel, azcentral, "The 'Jumanji' sequel goes to 'The Next Level.' Unfortunately, it's down," 12 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'avatar.' 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 avatar

1784, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for avatar

Sanskrit avatāraḥ descent, from avatarati he descends, from ava- away + tarati he crosses over — more at ukase, through entry 1

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Time Traveler for avatar

Time Traveler

The first known use of avatar was in 1784

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Last Updated

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Avatar.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avatar. Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for avatar


How to pronounce avatar (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of avatar

Hinduism : the human or animal form of a Hindu god on earth
formal : someone who represents a type of person, an idea, or a quality
computers : a small picture that represents a computer user in a game, on the Internet, etc.

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Comments on avatar

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


not to be intimidated or subdued

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