avatar

noun
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)

Keep scrolling for more

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 Roblox, like Minecraft, allows users to create avatars and virtual worlds for those characters to roam around in. NBC News, "Extremists creep into Roblox, an online game popular with children," 21 Aug. 2019 Idan Ivri Los Angeles Harper’s Magazine could not have found a better avatar of those beloved Trump voters in Midwestern diners than Houellebecq. Marilynne Robinson, Harper's magazine, "Letters," 10 Mar. 2019 The Narrator has conjured up a stronger, more confident character to anonymously act out the darker impulses stifled by civil society—rather like an anonymous online avatar. N.e.g., The Economist, "“Fight Club” presaged the darker corners of the internet," 10 Sep. 2019 An avatar provides instruction and feedback in real time, and the platform enables virtual visits with a physical therapist, who can also review videos of the patient doing the exercises. Garnet Henderson, Scientific American, "Virtual Physical Therapy Could Help Fill Gaps in Treating All Too Real Pain," 21 Aug. 2019 The way the avatars go from room to room is reminiscent of the NES classic. Gieson Cacho, The Mercury News, "Fandom gets into publishing with a roguelike called ‘UnderMine’," 20 Aug. 2019 But rather than also giving them proper character arcs, the movie turns its leads into shallow avatars for GIF-able moments of badassery. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "The Cheap Thrills of The Kitchen and Why Women Kill," 19 Aug. 2019 Snoopy, perhaps as the cartoonist’s avatar, observes the action with a wary but curious eye. Michael Cavna, Twin Cities, "How Charles Schulz finally named that bird Woodstock after the 1969 music festival," 18 Aug. 2019 Was Bernadette an avatar of thwarted female creativity for her time or for ours? Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "What ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette?’ meant to me as a woman in architecture," 13 Aug. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about avatar

Listen to Our Podcast about avatar

Statistics for avatar

Last Updated

24 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for avatar

The first known use of avatar was in 1784

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for avatar

avatar

noun
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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

to engage in dissolute behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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!