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 Nigam and the team began to build the avatar company that would become Genies. Cathy Hackl, Forbes, "Genies CEO Reveals His Mental Health Struggles With Depression And How Digital Avatars Are Helping Him," 6 Apr. 2021 The cut-ups at Sea Tea Improv dive into the digital universe, animating themselves as avatar comedy performers. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "10 Connecticut arts events for April: The HSO plays The Wadsworth, cafe nine reopens, and more," 3 Apr. 2021 Narayana [an avatar of Vishnu] and his consort Lakshmi. Michael Granberry, Dallas News, "FBI and Dallas Museum of Art team up to send stolen artwork back to Nepal," 5 Mar. 2021 The mangaka, or manga creator, has not publicly revealed their identity, and instead uses the pen name Gotouge and appears as an avatar of an alligator in glasses when making announcements about the series. Kat Moon, Time, "Everything to Know About Demon Slayer: The Manga, TV Series and Record-Breaking Film," 24 Feb. 2021 On YouTube Friday morning, several hundred viewers watched a live, animated video of a female Minecraft avatar with bare breasts opening a present full of the poop emoji. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, "Blood, Poop, and Violence: YouTube Has a Creepy Minecraft Problem," 30 Mar. 2021 Acts perform live at the company's Los Angeles studio while motion capture technology records their movements, which are replicated by the artist's digital avatar in a personalized virtual space. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "Dillon Francis Joins Wave for Virtual Show Where Fans Can 'Gift' Dancing Avocados + More," 24 Mar. 2021 Maegaard, who uses the work as his social media avatar, recently declined a $1 million offer for the piece. Andrew R. Chow, Time, "NFTs Are Shaking Up the Art World—But They Could Change So Much More," 22 Mar. 2021 Made for You asks shoppers to snap two photos through its mobile app and submit height, weight and body style to build their avatar and model different t-shirt styles. Greg Petro, Forbes, "HOW TO NOT LOSE IT ALL In An Online-First World," 5 Mar. 2021

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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Last Updated

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Avatar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avatar. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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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
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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