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90s Slang You Should Know


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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for somersault
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Saying which she turned a somersault off the Woozy and, alighting on her feet, began wildly dancing about.

    The Lost Princess of Oz L. Frank Baum
  • The leopard answered the report of the gun by making a somersault to the earth.

    The Giraffe Hunters Mayne Reid
  • The boys make a heap of clay and sod it, and with great speed run upon it and turn a somersault, lighting on their feet.

    The Upward Path Various
  • The Clown shook hands, then turned a somersault and grinned from ear to ear.

    Adventures in Toyland Edith King Hall
  • As soon as I had done so once or twice, I made a somersault, and away I went, striking out with my hands in the water.

  • Then it turned a somersault, beating the sea to waves like the boiling of a cauldron.

    Swept Out to Sea W. Bertram Foster
  • He seemed morally to have turned a sort of somersault, and to find things looking differently in consequence.

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

  • Why, I have known some old men of eighty, or even ninety, who positively didn't know how to turn a somersault.

    The Missing Prince G. E. Farrow
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.


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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