Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The incarnation of a Hindu deity, especially Vishnu, in human or animal form.
  • n. An embodiment, as of a quality or concept; an archetype: the very avatar of cunning.
  • n. A temporary manifestation or aspect of a continuing entity: occultism in its present avatar.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. In Hinduism the incarnation of a deity, particularly Vishnu.
  • n. The physical embodiment of an idea or concept; a personification.
  • n. A digital representation or handle of a person or being; often, it can take on any of various forms, as a participant chooses. i.e. 3D, animated, photo, sketch

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The descent of a deity to earth, and his incarnation as a man or an animal; -- chiefly associated with the incarnations of Vishnu.
  • n. An incarnation, embodiment or personification of a principle, quality, or attitude; -- used of people, mostly in a positive sense as a manifestation of a behavior or character worthy of admiration.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In Hindu myth., the descent of a deity to the earth in an incarnate form or some manifest shape; the incarnation of a god.
  • n. Hence A remarkable appearance, manifestation, or embodiment of any kind; a descent into a lower sphere; an adorable or wonderful exhibition of an abstract idea, principle, etc., in concrete form: as, “The Irish Avatar” (a poem by Byron on a visit of George IV. to Ireland); “the avatar of mathematics,”

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a new personification of a familiar idea
  • n. the manifestation of a Hindu deity (especially Vishnu) in human or superhuman or animal form

Etymologies

Sanskrit avatāraḥ, descent (of a deity from heaven), avatar : ava, down + tarati, he crosses; see terə-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1784, from Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) अवतार / اوتار (avatār), from Sanskrit अवतार (ava-tāra, "descent of a deity from a heaven"), a compound of अव (ava, "off, away, down") and the vṛddhi-stem of the root √tṝ ("to cross"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • Also, a sci-fi movie that I wish to see.

    December 24, 2009

  • In Hindu philosophy, avatar is the bodily manifestation, or incarnation, of a released soul or deity. It's a shame how this word has become diluted, not to say cheapened, by computer jargon.

    October 21, 2009

  • Also, a computer user's graphic representation, often a picture, cartoon, or logo.

    October 21, 2009