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 In narrative terms, Marion is Herman’s doppelgänger: a self-immolating avatar of decency that’s otherwise missing in their crowd. New York Times, "David Fincher, the Unhappiest Auteur," 1 Jan. 2021 All in a week’s work for this Holmesian avatar in a gritty Southern California suburb. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "The Best Books of 2020: Mysteries," 10 Dec. 2020 Players try to beat the game so the hero avatar can become a Master of Two Worlds, and the winner is rewarded with a real-life breathing exercise in utopia. Los Angeles Times, "Video games are the new runway. Coveted fashion brands are loving it," 4 Dec. 2020 Trump is merely the leading American avatar thus far of an irrational populism that crosses borders and political aisles. Washington Examiner Staff, Washington Examiner, "Trumpism's next act," 5 Nov. 2020 Of course, Erhan is not the first to digitally alter her look, or make herself into an avatar-like being. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Take a Trip Down This Turkish Design Student’s Surreal, Gothic Instagram Page," 28 Nov. 2020 Protagonist Wade Watts, who goes by the avatar name Parzival in the expansive virtual reality, the OASIS, finds a new quest composed of Easter eggs and riddles from the deceased eccentric OASIS creator, James Halliday, also known as Anorak. Felecia Wellington Radel, USA TODAY, "'Ready Player Two' review: Ernest Cline's sequel doesn't quite satisfy," 27 Nov. 2020 Fitbit Ace 2 activity tracker lets kids 6 and older pick a clock face and choose an avatar for the fitness app that encourages healthy habits and well-being ($49.95, save $20 at Amazon). oregonlive, "Black Friday fit gifts: Burn calories, get healthy with big deals on home gym gear, workout clothing, fitness trackers," 27 Nov. 2020 In partnership with online 3-D avatar site IMVU, the event will see Vittar hosting her own spooky festival with special guests, DJ sets and a lot of great music. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "Pabllo Vittar Is Getting Spooky & Charitable for Upcoming Virtual Halloween Club Night," 19 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for avatar

Time Traveler

The first known use of avatar was in 1784

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Avatar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avatar. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for avatar


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.

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