avatar

You might know this word from video games, where you create an avatar to represent you on screen. An avatar is something that embodies something else.

In Hinduism the different gods can take many different forms, and when they took human forms, the human was their avatar. Eventually, the word avatar came to mean the embodiment not just of a god, but also of any abstract idea. If you have a cool head, you might see yourself as the avatar of reasonableness in a fight. Video game avatars are sort of a reverse of the first meaning––a physical entity (you) form becomes something abstract (a video game guy).

Definitions of avatar
  1. noun
    the manifestation of a Hindu deity (especially Vishnu) in human or superhuman or animal form
    “the Buddha is considered an avatar of the god Vishnu”
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    examples:
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    Jagannatha
    an avatar of Vishnu
    Kalki
    the 10th and last incarnation of Vishnu
    Krishna
    8th and most important avatar of Vishnu; incarnated as a handsome young man playing a flute
    Rama
    avatar of Vishnu whose name is synonymous with God; any of three incarnations: Ramachandra or Parashurama or Balarama
    type of:
    Hindu deity
    a deity worshipped by the Hindus
  2. noun
    a new personification of a familiar idea
    “the very avatar of cunning”
    synonyms: embodiment, incarnation
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    types:
    deification
    an embodiment of the qualities of a god
    reincarnation
    embodiment in a new form (especially the reappearance or a person in another form)
    type of:
    personification
    a person who represents an abstract quality
  3. noun
    an electronic image representing a computer user
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    type of:
    representation
    a creation that is a visual or tangible rendering of someone or something
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