Avalanche

(3 syl.).

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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