avatar

play
noun av·a·tar \ˈa-və-ˌtär\

Definition of avatar

  1. 1 :  the incarnation of a Hindu deity (such as Vishnu)

  2. 2a :  an incarnation in human formb :  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. 3 :  a variant phase or version of a continuing basic entity the latest avatar of the conservative movement

  4. 4 :  an electronic image that represents and is manipulated by a computer user in a virtual space (as in a computer game or an online shopping site) and that interacts with other objects in the space

avatar was our Word of the Day on 04/25/2008. Hear the podcast!

Examples of avatar in a Sentence

  1. She has come to be regarded as an avatar of charity and concern for the poor.

  2. She chose a penguin as her personal avatar in the chat room.

Recent Examples of avatar from the Web

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.

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 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.

Origin and Etymology of avatar

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

Other Religion (Eastern and Other) Terms


AVATAR Defined for English Language Learners

avatar

play
noun

Definition of avatar for English Language Learners

  • Hinduism : the human or animal form of a Hindu god on earth

  • : 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.



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

conspicuously offensive

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time-traveler-quiz-which-word-came-first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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