av·​a·​tar ˈa-və-ˌtär How to pronounce avatar (audio)
plural avatars
: an electronic image (as in a video game) that represents and may be manipulated by a computer user
The average Fortnite player spends hundreds of hours in the game with a personal avatar, fighting with and interacting with the avatars of other players.Brian X. Chen
compare non-player character, npc
: the incarnation of a Hindu deity (such as Vishnu)
: an incarnation in human form
: an embodiment (as of a concept or philosophy) often in a person
… his series hero is about as pure an avatar of freedom as you will find in modern fiction …Sam Leith
: a variant phase or version of a continuing basic entity
the latest avatar of the conservative movement

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 The proliferation of celebrity AI avatars, chatbots and music experiments suggest that many famous people are already accepting of that future. Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter, 30 Nov. 2023 Appropriately, her avatar told attendees that McKinsey researchers estimated GenAI will add the equivalent of $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion in annual value to the global economy across over 60 industries. Susan Galer, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 Several other forms, like email communication, social-collaboration platforms in organizations, the extensive use of mobile phones, and communication via avatars in the metaverse, should be studied more extensively in the future. IEEE Spectrum, 21 Nov. 2023 Throughout the piece, female rage is explored through Bjork’s and Rosalía’s avatars. Jem Aswad, Variety, 21 Nov. 2023 Unlike Meta’s and Snapchat’s AI bots, Google Bard does not have an avatar character to represent the AI. Alexandra Sternlicht, Fortune, 17 Nov. 2023 Both Springsteen and Stallone have channeled their inner selves through art to create a third identity, one that exists somewhere between truth and fiction, that has become a potent avatar, especially for their male fans. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 7 Nov. 2023 Roy Tillman’s specific brand of malevolence seems perfectly in tune with the Mad Men star’s gift for playing macho avatars of a bygone era who are confused and angered by change. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 21 Nov. 2023 But the lumpen, jolie-laide Cabbage Patch Kids, who descended from Appalachian folk-art communities, were unlikely avatars of this new era of grasping Reaganite consumerism. Jessica Winter, The New Yorker, 20 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'avatar.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Sanskrit avatāraḥ descent, from avatarati he descends, from ava- away + tarati he crosses over — more at ukase, through entry 1

First Known Use

1784, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of avatar was in 1784


Dictionary Entries Near avatar

Cite this Entry

“Avatar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avatar. Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: someone who represents a type of person, an idea, or a quality
: an electronic image that represents and may be manipulated by a computer user (as in a game)

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