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 To see which apps are currently connected to Apple Health, open the app on your device, tap your avatar in the top right corner, then choose Apps under Privacy. David Nield, Wired, "How to Lock Down Your Health and Fitness Data," 17 Nov. 2019 The trailer concludes with Bethany entering the game as her original avatar, Shelly. Katherine Schaffstall, The Hollywood Reporter, "Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart Adjust to New Avatars in New 'Jumanji: The Next Level' Trailer," 31 Oct. 2019 Eventually, Thibault moved on to more complex tasks with both his avatar and exoskeleton. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Paralyzed Man Walks in Brain-Controlled Exoskeleton," 5 Oct. 2019 As his avatar runs and leaps through the game’s virtual environment, weapon in hand, Blevins barks commands like an NFL quarterback at the snap—and his Twitch viewers hang on every mundanity. By Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "Cloud Gaming Is Big Tech’s New Street Fight," 19 July 2019 More than 10 million gamers tuned in — and had the chance to let their avatars dance to the beat. NBC News, "From Taylor Swift to the NBA, watching live events online is the VIP way to see a show," 2 July 2019 Though the Minecraft Earth experience seemed to be perfectly responsive, one aspect was oddly slow: the ability to load and select various avatars. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Minecraft Earth goes live in preview for the entire United States," 12 Nov. 2019 This time, Danny DeVito and Danny Glover, Spencer’s grandfather and his elderly friend, arrive in the game as Johnson and Hart’s avatars, creating confusion for the foursome. Alexia Fernandez, PEOPLE.com, "Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart Are Hilarious in the Final Trailer for Jumanji: The Next Level," 31 Oct. 2019 The same themes are discussed, again and again, through shifting formats and avatars. Zoë Hu, The New Republic, "Natasha Stagg Has No Illusions," 28 Oct. 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.

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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

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Avatar.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/avatar?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=a&file=avatar01. Accessed 8 December 2019.

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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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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).


to constrict the range or activity of

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