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[suhm-er-sawlt] /ˈsʌm ərˌsɔlt/
an acrobatic movement, either forward or backward, in which the body rolls end over end, making a complete revolution.
such a movement performed in the air as part of a dive, tumbling routine, etc.
a complete overturn or reversal, as of opinion.
verb (used without object)
to perform a somersault.
Also, somerset
[suhm-er-set] /ˈsʌm ərˌsɛt/ (Show IPA),
summersault, summerset.
Origin of somersault
1520-30; < Middle French sombresaut, alteration of sobresault; compare Old Provençal sobre over (< Latin super), saut a leap (< Latin saltus) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for somersault
  • Mine is a graceful somersault that disengages both of my skis and leaves me floating in the white.
  • Choose to jump with someone else, somersault off the bridge, jump forwards or even topple backwards off the bridge.
  • Even a swell would substantially increases the risk of a somersault or the tail breaking off.
  • Then he advances toward her, leaping and doing a somersault, only to be pushed away.
  • Others can shuffle cards with one hand or turn a somersault in midair.
  • Being able to somersault with her playmates was a major accomplishment.
  • So he got on the horse and he began pitching and finally turned a somersault with him.
British Dictionary definitions for somersault


  1. a forward roll in which the head is placed on the ground and the trunk and legs are turned over it
  2. a similar roll in a backward direction
an acrobatic feat in which either of these rolls are performed in midair, as in diving or gymnastics
a complete reversal of opinion, policy, etc
(intransitive) to perform a somersault
Word Origin
C16: from Old French soubresault, probably from Old Provençal sobresaut, from sobre over (from Latin super) + saut a jump, leap (from Latin saltus)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for somersault

1520s, from Middle French sombresault, from Old Provençal sobresaut, from sobre "over" (from Latin supra "over;" see supra-) + saut "a jump," from Latin saltus, from the root of salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.)). Sometimes further corrupted to somerset, etc.


1850, from somersault (n.). Related: Somersaulted; somersaulting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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