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avatar

[av-uh-tahr, av-uh-tahr] /ˈæv əˌtɑr, ˌæv əˈtɑr/
noun
1.
Hindu Mythology. the descent of a deity to the earth in an incarnate form or some manifest shape; the incarnation of a god.
2.
an embodiment or personification, as of a principle, attitude, or view of life.
3.
Digital Technology. a graphical image that represents a person, as on the Internet.
4.
Also called avatar mouse, mouse avatar. a mouse that is implanted with cells or tissue freshly extracted from a human being, as to test drug therapies for an individual patient or to study a disease process:
Researchers transplanted samples of the patient’s tumor into specially bred avatars.
5.
(in science fiction) a hybrid creature, composed of human and alien DNA and remotely controlled by the mind of a genetically matched human being.
Origin
1775-1785
1775-85; < Sanskrit avatāra a passing down, equivalent to ava down + -tāra a passing over
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for avatar
  • His avatar is a cartoonish rendering of his face.
  • When a user thinks about moving his own feet, the avatar walk forward.
  • Add an avatar that represents you.
  • In a 3-D marketplace, your avatar's name is your brand.
  • My avatar just stands around watching other people interact.
  • You can see yourself in avatar form on the screen dancing in real time .
  • You might buy better clothes for your avatar, or a car.
  • He's an avatar of Shiva the destroyer.
  • The avatar creation was the highlight of the kiosk for my kids.
  • She is the avatar of so much that is now absent in our society.
British Dictionary definitions for avatar

avatar

/ˈævəˌtɑː/
noun
1.
(Hinduism) the manifestation of a deity, notably Vishnu, in human, superhuman, or animal form
2.
a visible manifestation or embodiment of an abstract concept; archetype
3.
a movable image that represents a person in a virtual reality environment or in cyberspace
Word Origin
C18: from Sanskrit avatāra a going down, from avatarati he descends, from ava down + tarati he passes over
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for avatar
n.

1784, "descent of a Hindu deity," from Sanskrit avatarana "descent" (of a deity to the earth in incarnate form), from ava- "down" + base of tarati "(he) crosses over," from PIE root *tere- "to cross over" (see through). In computer use, it seems to trace to the novel "Snowcrash" (1992) by Neal Stephenson.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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avatar in Culture
avatar [(av-uh-tahr)]

In Hinduism, a god made visibly present, especially in a human form. The Buddha is considered an avatar of the god Vishnu.

Note: By extension, an “avatar” is any new embodiment of an old idea.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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avatar in Technology

1. An image representing a user in a multi-user virtual reality (or VR-like, in the case of Palace) space.
2. (CMU, Tektronix) root, superuser. There are quite a few Unix computers on which the name of the superuser account is "avatar" rather than "root". This quirk was originated by a CMU hacker who disliked the term "superuser", and was propagated through an ex-CMU hacker at Tektronix.
[Jargon File]
(1997-09-14)
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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