Word of the Day

Friday, February 20, 2004

avatar

\AV-uh-tar\ , noun;
1.
The incarnation of a deity -- chiefly associated in Hinduism with the incarnations of Vishnu.
2.
An embodiment, as of a quality, concept, philosophy, or tradition; an archetype.
3.
A temporary manifestation or aspect of a continuing entity.
Quotes:
In 1517, the year of their first contact, the Aztecs took the Spaniards to be avatars of Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent, god of learning and of wind.
-- Paul Theroux, Fresh Air Fiend
People . . . believe he was some sort of avatar of peace and love, the ultimate hippie.
-- Edna Gundersen, "For $60, a ticket to read", USA Today, October 5, 2000
It would seem that no definitive identification can be made (Rimbaud the symbolist, the surrealist, the Bolshevik, Rimbaud the bourgeois, the crook, the pervert, Rimbaud the prophet, the superman, the mystic, Rimbaud the Catholic, the cabalist, the atheist, etc.); the latest "proved" avatar is forever recycled as evidence -- faulty or secure -- on which to base the next.
-- Richard Howard, "There Was Only One Rimbaud", New York Times, November 19, 2000
Origin:
Avatar is from Sanskrit avatara, "descent" (of a deity from heaven), from avatarati, "he descends," from ava-, "down" + tarati, "he crosses, he passes over."
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