Definitions

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

  • n. A fall or slide of a large mass, as of snow or rock, down a mountainside.
  • n. A massive or overwhelming amount; a flood: received an avalanche of mail.
  • intransitive v. To fall or slide in a massive or overwhelming amount.
  • transitive v. To overwhelm; inundate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A large mass or body of snow and ice sliding swiftly down a mountain side, or falling down a precipice.
  • n. A fall of earth, rocks, etc., similar to that of an avalanche of snow or ice.
  • n. A sudden, great, or irresistible descent or influx of anything.
  • n. Anything like an avalanche in suddenness and overwhelming quantity (like a barrage, blitz, etc).
  • v. To descend like an avalanche.
  • v. To come down upon; to overwhelm.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A large mass or body of snow and ice sliding swiftly down a mountain side, or falling down a precipice.
  • n. A fall of earth, rocks, etc., similar to that of an avalanche of snow or ice.
  • n. A sudden, great, or irresistible descent or influx of anything.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The fall or sliding down of a mass of snow or ice from a mountain-slope.
  • n. Hence—2. Anything resembling an avalanche in suddenness and destructiveness: as, an avalanche of misfortunes.

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

  • n. a slide of large masses of snow and ice and mud down a mountain
  • v. gather into a huge mass and roll down a mountain, of snow
  • n. a sudden appearance of an overwhelming number of things

Etymologies

French; akin to Provençal lavanca, ravine, perhaps ultimately from Latin lābī, to slip.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French, from Franco-Provençal (Savoy) avalançhe, blend of aval ‘downhill’ and standard lavençhe, from Vulgar Latin *labanka (cf. Occitan lavanca, Italian valanga), alteration of Late Latin labina ‘landslide’ (cf. Franco-Provençal (Dauphiné) lavino, Romansch lavina), from Latin labi ‘to slip, slide’. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Whatever doubts the professor may have had were swept away in what he called an "avalanche of congratulations".

    The Guardian World News

  • Just last month, a Post editorial on the Norway massacres sparked what the newspaper itself called an "avalanche" of critical comments and letters condemning the paper for what readers saw as having offered justification for the terrorism.

    Bradley Burston: A Rightist Push Scores Against Press Freedom in Israel

  • That is 4 Super Delegates to endorse not 3 This is what we call a avalanche of supers He has gotton almost 30 supers in 1 week he only needs 146 Delegates to win the nomination Hopefully that will come to close after Kentucky and Oregon vote.

    Three more superdelegates for Obama

  • When an avalanche is deemed likely, it detonates a mixture of oxygen and propane gas in its explosion chamber.

    Gazex®

  • Solution: collaborate with Cemagref, the world leading institution in avalanche science.

    Glacier-Sailing with the Katabatic Winds

  • But even before you notice that an avalanche is racing towards you, the motion detectors built into your Life Bags Xtreme® automatically trigger rapid inflation so that in nanoseconds you are enveloped in a protective bubble stocked with supplies to last weeks.

    Archive 2007-11-01

  • The armoire hides the messy avalanche that schoolwork had become over the summer, but now the avalanche is eradicated and safely filed and labeled in our file box system.

    Starting Homeschooling

  • By the time it reaches bottom, who knows how big it will have gotten — but I sure like the sound of the word avalanche, so I say we get it going.

    Firedoglake » Action Steps for the Feingold “Censure Bush” Proposal

  • According to the Canadian Avalanche Association's Danger Scale, that's actually the second lowest risk, under which a natural avalanche is unlikely, but a man-made avalanche could be triggered.

    Daimnation!: Daniel Arato, one of the

  • The pole was known as an avalanche probe and was used by search parties to feel for avalanche victims beneath the snow.

    The Lions of Lucerne

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