• (RP) IPA: /ˈævəlɑːnʃ/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈævəlæntʃ/

avalanche (plural avalanches)

  1. A large mass or body of snow and ice sliding swiftly down a mountain side, or falling down a precipice.
  2. A fall of earth, rocks, etc., similar to that of an avalanche of snow or ice.
  3. A sudden, great, or irresistible descent or influx; anything like an avalanche in suddenness and overwhelming quantity; a barrage, blitz, etc.
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations Verb

avalanche (avalanches, present participle avalanching; past and past participle avalanched)

  1. (intransitive) To descend like an avalanche.
    • 1872, Mark Twain, Roughing It, Chapter 4,
      Whenever the stage stopped to change horses, we would wake up, and try to recollect where we were […] We began to get into country, now, threaded here and there with little streams. These had high, steep banks on each side, and every time we flew down one bank and scrambled up the other, our party inside got mixed somewhat. First we would all be down in a pile at the forward end of the stage, nearly in a sitting posture, and in a second we would shoot to the other end, and stand on our heads. […] ¶ Every time we avalanched from one end of the stage to the other, the Unabridged Dictionary would come too; and every time it came it damaged somebody.
    • 1916, Robert Frost, “Birches,” lines 10-11,
      Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
      Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
    • 1959, Mike Banks, Rakaposhi, New York: Barnes, 1960, Chapter 7, p. 95,
      As it happened, I had progressed only some few feet out onto the snow when a clean-cut section stripped off the surface and avalanched.
  2. (transitive) To come down upon; to overwhelm.
    • 1961, William Alexander Deans, Muffled Drumbeats in the Congo, Chapter 9, p. 95,
      The applications were doubtless snowed under in the maze of official correspondence which avalanched the new government.
    The shelf broke and the boxes avalanched the workers.
  3. (transitive) To propel downward like an avalanche.
    • 1899, Robert Blatchford, Dismal England, London: Walter Scott, “Signals,” p. 147,
      When our artist and I were dropped down our first coal-mine, we felt a leetle bit anxious. It was something new. But we have been avalanched down the incline from Peak Forest, and boomeranged round the sudden curve at Rowsley, and have run the gauntlet at Penistone and King’s Cross without ever taking the precaution to say “God help us.”
    • 1912, Jack London, A Sun of the Son, Chapter Eight, IV,
      The scuppers could not carry off the burden of water on the schooner’s deck. She rolled it out and took it in over one rail and the other; and at times, nose thrown skyward, sitting down on her heel, she avalanched it aft.
    • 1930, Arthur Gask, The Shadow of Larose, Chapter 11,
      Then another misfortune avalanched itself upon me, before even I had fully taken in the extent of the first.
    • 1946, Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan, London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, “Blood at Midnight,”
      Swelter, following at high speed, had caught his toe at the raised lip of the opening, and unable to check his momentum, had avalanched himself into warm water.

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