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.

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, through

First Known Use: 1784

Other Religion (Eastern and Other) Terms

AVATAR Defined for English Language Learners


noun av·a·tar \ˈa-və-ˌtär\

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

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a brief usually trivial fact

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