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

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 But reverence for Charlie Hebdo — as the target of such a horrific attack and as an avatar for the freedom of expression valued so highly by the French republic — has endured. James Mcauley, Washington Post, "A terrorist attack turned Charlie Hebdo into a revered institution it never sought to be," 26 May 2018 The screening devices, which use no radiation and displays, will create a generic avatar and detect waves that a person's body generates naturally. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Body Scanners Are Leaking Out of the Airport and Into the Subway," 16 Aug. 2018 Want to control an avatar and roam about virtual words interacting with others? Popular Mechanics, "The Death of the Internet," 7 Feb. 2019 At age 70, Hirono has become one of the surprising avatars of what is known among liberals as the Resistance. Philip Elliott, Time, "Mazie Hirono Is the Only Immigrant in the Senate. She’s Ready to Take on Trump," 17 May 2018 The technology could monitor a living person’s movements, voice, and facial expressions and then later use them to direct an avatar to respond appropriately — perhaps by offering advice or giving a comforting hug. David Cox /, NBC News, "Will 'digital resurrections' let us bring back the dead?," 16 Apr. 2018 Mann’s prophet is William Vogt, an avatar of today’s environmental movement and onetime president of Planned Parenthood. Mary Ellen Hannibal, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘The Wizard and the Prophet,’ by Charles C. Mann," 12 Jan. 2018 Last month, the game sold virtual National Football League jerseys for players’ avatars. Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ, "The ‘Fortnite’ Dance Move That Spawned a Lawsuit," 15 Dec. 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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avatar

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avdp

Statistics for avatar

Last Updated

14 Mar 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

Comments on avatar

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