av·​a·​tar | \ˈa-və-ˌtär \

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 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

Hopefully next time our avatars will perhaps have this conversation. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Product Hunt CEO Ryan Hoover says redesigning your app is probably a mistake," 2 Aug. 2018 The story of how Ms. McGrath became an avatar for that wave is a narrative that combined a compelling biography, risk-taking, the virtues of the digital age and the willingness to compete even when party elders in Washington were trying to stop her. Michael Tackett, New York Times, "How Amy McGrath Went From Marine Fighter Pilot to Victorious Democrat," 23 May 2018 Truly, is there anything braver than a social media user who makes an unsolicited negative comment about someone else's appearance while simultaneously having a private account with the default anonymous avatar? Marci Robin, Allure, "Ariana Grande Had the Perfect Comeback for an Instagram Commenter Who's "Sick of" Her Ponytail," 17 July 2018 First, that means a standard Switch's pair of Joy-Cons will enable same-screen cooperative play by default, and these segments showed Pokémon trainer avatars running around a Kanto-region overworld in a style that resembled classic series RPGs. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Pokémon’s first Switch game launches in November, connects to Pokémon Go," 30 May 2018 And then there's Plaza, the avatar of millennial malaise. Nojan Aminosharei, Marie Claire, "Aubrey Plaza Was Never April Ludgate," 13 June 2018 The implication that identification is a prerequisite for getting an accurate avatar is not in line with Gen Z's increasing awareness of gender fluidity. Madeline Buxton, refinery29.com, "Apple's Memoji Are Gender Neutral — Here's Why That Matters," 5 June 2018 About 70% of what is spoken by the avatar is written out by human specialists working behind the scenes, says Care.coach Chief Executive Victor Wang, while the other 30% is generated via artificial intelligence. Imani Moise, WSJ, "For the Elderly Who Are Lonely, Robots Offer Companionship," 28 May 2018 Cyrus has also replaced her avatar on Twitter, but as of writing, all her tweets are still there. refinery29.com, "Why Did Miley Cyrus Delete Her Instagram Posts? Fans Have A Few Theories," 14 July 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near avatar


avascular necrosis






Statistics for avatar

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for avatar

The first known use of avatar was in 1784

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More Definitions for avatar



English Language Learners Definition of avatar

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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on avatar

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with avatar

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for avatar

Spanish Central: Translation of avatar

Nglish: Translation of avatar for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of avatar for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about avatar

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