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or somerset, summersault, summerset

[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.
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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for somersault
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A somersault and Sun Wu Kung was standing before the city moat.

  • With that he turned a somersault and disappeared without a trace.

  • And with that he turned one somersault after another, so that he flew along like a whirlwind.

  • But Viggo turned a somersault instead of “Right about” and ran to the house.

  • Whenever the clown wants to rest, he has to get in the somersault position.

    Common Science Carleton W. Washburne
  • Your abolition government may turn a somersault some fine morning.

    Left on Labrador

    Charles Asbury Stephens
  • When he turned the somersault, he looked at the piece of the ocean's roof.

  • And—and then you came out, and turned a somersault, and—I wondered why, that was all.

    Margaret Montfort Laura E. Richards
  • Her knees became as jelly, and her heart seemed to turn a somersault.

    The Dop Doctor

    Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
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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