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)

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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

While Snapchat doesn’t share viewership numbers for 3D Bitmoji, a spokeswoman for the company told me that 70 percent of its daily users are using their Bitmoji avatar on the app. Reggie Ugwu, New York Times, "At Snapchat, Redrawing the Bounds of Reality," 14 June 2018 The technology, from Care.coach Corp. , uses an animal avatar on a tablet to remind patients to take their medications and follow their treatment plans. Imani Moise, WSJ, "For the Elderly Who Are Lonely, Robots Offer Companionship," 28 May 2018 The ordinariness of his tale and its unexceptional heroes—Ananda and his uncle Radhesh, an avatar for Odysseus—implies that, in the end, everyone is wandering and shipwrecked. The Economist, "In times of crisis, writers turn to Homer," 26 Apr. 2018 Billie herself is an avatar, dancing and decked out in head to toe blōhsh — her merch line, which previously released products at Coachella. Tatum Dooley, Teen Vogue, "You Can Now Buy a Billie Eilish Doll, Courtesy of Takashi Murakami," 29 May 2019 For its part, the depiction of Vishnu’s boar avatar (described above and painted about 1775-80 in Kangra or Guler) exudes such calm and control as to be placid—a reassuring quality in a deity charged with maintaining the cosmic order. Lee Lawrence, WSJ, "‘Seeing the Divine: Pahari Painting of North India’ Review: Multifaceted Devotion," 16 Feb. 2019 Our second demo, Project Tennis Scramble, brings up immediate comparisons to Wii Sports tennis, with cartoon-style avatars hitting a ball back and forth over the net. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Hands-on: Oculus Quest is an intriguing new middle ground for VR," 27 Sep. 2018 Rapper and producer Rico Nasty, with the digital avatar Lil Miquela at her side, stopped the show with a KISS-esque charcoal and white eye look, a princess-y high ponytail, and baby hairs coiled to perfection. Akili King, Vogue, "The Best Beauty Instagrams of the Week: Bella Hadid, Naomi Campbell, and More," 21 Apr. 2019 His Twitter and Instagram avatar is a sweet cartoon bear (from the English cartoon Rupert Bear), and many of his posts are love notes to his wife. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "Rupert Friend Is Tired of Killing," 14 June 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

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avascular necrosis

avast

avatar

avaunt

AVC

avdp

Statistics for avatar

Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for avatar

The first known use of avatar was in 1784

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More Definitions for avatar

avatar

noun

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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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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