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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 avatars
  • People's own body map in their minds change when they play virtual reality games with different avatars.
  • Since then, my computer wallpaper has been sloths, my avatars in many places are also those absolutely charming creatures as well.
  • Actually, that problem would be easily solved through the use of avatars.
  • It was great to put names to faces, or human beings to avatars and usernames.
  • The genome combination of the avatars was another fascinating backstory detail.
  • They used the captured scientist and soldier avatars as hostages when the military approached.
  • To develop the computer-controlled avatars, researchers first recorded interactions between patients and nurses.
  • Imagine true-to-life avatars and objects being imported into virtual environments.
  • Rather, it's a system for building customized virtual rooms that other users' avatars can visit.
  • It could even enable players to control video game characters or avatars in virtual worlds with nothing but their thoughts.
British Dictionary definitions for avatars

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 avatars

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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avatars 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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