Definition of avalanche in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈavəˌlan(t)SH/


1A mass of snow, ice, and rocks falling rapidly down a mountainside.
Example sentences
  • During interglacial periods the steep, unstable U-shaped valley sides are subject to mass movements such as rock falls and large rock avalanches.
  • Only on a mountain can you experience avalanches of snow or rock.
  • Find a simple wind that sails your mind and body to Denver, Colorado; don't even think about the avalanches of mountain snow.
1.1A large mass of any material moving rapidly downhill: an avalanche of mud
More example sentences
  • Rescuers are trying to recover the bodies of an estimated 100 people buried under an avalanche of mud in a little village just near Mumbai.
  • In this case, it is possible that the channel-forming fluid has removed some material deposited in the avalanche.
  • An avalanche of mud and rubbish crashed down upon a group of more than 100 shacks and huts, which were home to around 800 families.
2A sudden arrival or occurrence of something in overwhelming quantities: we have had an avalanche of applications
More example sentences
  • I have had a sudden avalanche of e-mails, just at a time when I'm struggling to finish a script.
  • In the southern zone, where some 85 prisoners remain under British control, the sudden avalanche of allegations can hardly improve what is becoming an increasingly tense situation.
  • A sudden avalanche of selling by these parties at current depressed prices amid rising global demand and commodity prices makes little sense.
barrage, volley, flood, deluge, torrent, tide, shower, wave
3 Physics A cumulative process in which a fast-moving ion or electron generates further ions and electrons by collision.
Example sentences
  • These very intense fields in very low-pressure conditions generate an avalanche of electrons on to metals that can become destructive and cause losses in heavy investment.
  • If the density of Rydberg atoms was high enough for two of them to collide, the free electron from that collision would trigger an avalanche that ionized the rest of the Rydberg atoms.
  • Then, the process quickly sparks an electron avalanche vaporizing everything within the laser spot.


[no object]
1(Of a mass of snow, ice, and rocks) descend rapidly down a mountainside.
Example sentences
  • The snow had recently avalanched, so only surface hoar is thawing.
  • Inspecting two memorial plaques bolted to rocks in the Kola's compact Khibiny Mountains, our guide announced, ‘This one is for four skiers, killed when the slope below us avalanched.’
  • The whole upper headwall is avalanching and is loaded with snow right now.
1.1 [with object] Engulf or carry off by an avalanche: the climbers were avalanched down the south face of the mountain
More example sentences
  • The latest pop single is avalanching the radio stations and it will be presented to wider audiences on Wednesday at the National Palace of Culture.
  • The fourth wave avalanched us both off the jet ski.
  • Often, the government does nothing until it is avalanched with negative press coverage.
2 Physics Undergo a rapid increase in conductivity due to an avalanche process.
Example sentences
  • Some of the avalanched electrons will travel through the thin oxide of the diode region.
  • Avalanching electrons bombard the surface.
  • The avalanching electrons, in turn, intensify the ionization immediately surrounding the wire.


Late 18th century: from French, alteration of the Alpine dialect word lavanche (of unknown origin), influenced by avaler 'descend'; compare with Italian valanga.

  • This word comes from French Alpine dialect word lavanche of unknown origin, its current form influenced by the French avaler ‘to descend’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: av·a·lanche

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