avalanche

Definitions

General English

General Science

  • noun a large mass of snow that becomes detached and falls down the side of a mountain
  • noun a series of actions beginning with one which starts a number of others

Computing

  • noun a sequence of actions in which each action starts another

Electronics

  • A cumulative ionization process in which charged particles are accelerated by an electric field and collide with neutral particles, creating additional charged particles. These additional particles collide with others, so as to create an avalanche effect.
  • In semiconductors, the cumulative generation of free charge carriers in an avalanche breakdown.

Travel

  • noun a heavy mass of snow sliding down a mountainside

Origin & History of “avalanche”

Not surprisingly, avalanche originated in the Alps. The French dialect of Savoy, an area near the Italian border in the western Alps, had a term lavantse, apparently derived from a vulgar Latin *labanca (whence Provençal lavanca). through association with the verb avaler ‘descend’ (see (down)), this underwent metathesis (transposition of l and v) to produce in the Romansh language of Switzerland avalantze, which was borrowed into French as avalanche.
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