means properly something which goes downwards (French,
à val). The word is applied to a mass of snow mixed with earth,
ice, and stones, which slips down a mountain side to the lower ground.
Metaphorically, we speak of an “avalanche of applause,” an “avalanche
of bouquets” showered on the stage, etc.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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