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 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

Where was this echo chamber, where were these avatars of human rights, when Mr. Obama gave the mullahs pallets of cash to carry out their work as the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism? Mike Pompeo, WSJ, "The U.S.-Saudi Partnership Is Vital," 27 Nov. 2018 For everyone involved, the powwow is a shifty, ambivalent avatar of Indianness, an identity that many of these characters feel themselves to be playing at. Constance Grady, Vox, "Tommy Orange’s There There is the novel of the summer," 2 July 2018 Davidson isn’t the perfect avatar of this unkempt, skate-forward moment in streetwear. Kenzie Bryant, Vanities, "Pete Davidson and the Rise of the Scumbro," 29 June 2018 Pence is certainly the ranking avatar of Christian loyalty to an apostate. Virginia Heffernan, WIRED, "ChurchToo and Mike Pence’s Crisis of Faith," 21 June 2018 If Tunie’s Julia is a confusing, almost parodical ringleader of the feminist #Resistance, then Joy Nash’s Plum is a sympathetic avatar of the countless women presumably brainwashed by the unholy union of women’s magazines and beauty corporations. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Dietland Envisions a World of Female Revenge," 5 June 2018 What is the movie that just came out that was a great book where everyone lives as an avatar? Eric Johnson, Recode, "Product Hunt CEO Ryan Hoover says redesigning your app is probably a mistake," 2 Aug. 2018 The screens show Gōken’s avatar crumpled at the feet of his opponent. Chris Goto-jones, The Atlantic, "Practicing for Enlightenment With Video Games," 27 Mar. 2018 Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland Shooter, boasted a MAGA hat avatar on his Instagram, and was seen around the school wearing one. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "How the MAGA Hat Became a Symbol of Hate," 31 Jan. 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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Dictionary Entries near avatar

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avascular necrosis

avast

avatar

avaunt

AVC

avdp

Statistics for avatar

Last Updated

11 Apr 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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