Definition of somersault in English:



  • An acrobatic movement in which a person turns head over heels in the air or on the ground and lands or finishes on their feet.

    ‘a backward somersault’
    figurative ‘Paula's stomach turned a somersault’
    • ‘My intention was this: to do a round-off on to a trampette then tuck backwards into a somersault and land on my feet.’
    • ‘Eventually they may learn to do a somersault in the water by adapting their land movements to the water, but that doesn't mean they are doing it as efficiently as an aquatic creature would do it.’
    • ‘I remember the fans gasping at Lyukin's triple somersault in the floor exercises for the Moscow News prize.’
    • ‘Now a pirouette has been added to Korbut's loop and several young ladies do a backward somersault on the beam twice in a row.’
    • ‘Finally he came down in a somersault and landed on one knee.’
    • ‘He was awarded 9.80 points for his vault - a handspring somersault with forward salto.’
    • ‘His heart turned a somersault at her use of his given name.’
    • ‘I did a somersault and landed gracefully on my feet.’
    • ‘Once he bungled a somersault, but managed such a smooth entry into the next exercise that the spectators never suspected that anything was amiss.’
    • ‘With practice, the momentum created by the dolphin kick and hand movement initiating your somersault should allow you to land aggressively at the wall.’
    • ‘She still has ambitious goals: reading, backward somersaults, swimming, tying shoes.’
    • ‘Every minute of the training session is planned: she does warming up exercises slowly and thoroughly, does her pull ups on the wall bars, then to the trampoline for a few light and graceful leaps and somersaults.’
    • ‘Level Three were the most difficult containing moves such as back flips, somersaults and full cartwheels.’
    • ‘Gymnasts start early and children as young as two use soft apparatus to learn their first somersault and handspring, under the watchful eyes of more than 20 qualified coaches.’
    • ‘He launched himself off the roof, performed a double somersault and landed on his feet unharmed.’
    • ‘I dove to my left again, and this time rolled into a somersault that landed me in a thicket of mountain laurel at the base of the ridge.’
    • ‘Chen, who is now playing elder sister to many of her younger classmates, has already accustomed herself to the endless backward somersaults, handstands and horse vaults.’
    • ‘I believe you can gyrate on the somersault, get your feet down as best as you can, and push off and go very fast off the wall.’
    • ‘We have now rejuvenated the program in the floor exercises, long horse and in the rings, introducing new complex somersaults and pirouettes.’
    • ‘I did a neat backward somersault and landed in the river in a welter of blue and silver, unpleasantly aware I could not swim.’


[no object]
  • Perform a somersault, or make a similar movement accidentally.

    ‘his car somersaulted into a ditch’
    • ‘For on 7 March, 1973, Kathy, who lived on Bury Road with her family, was lucky to escape with her life when her sports car skidded and somersaulted on a motorway approach road.’
    • ‘Tony jumped past me, somersaulting onstage, and straightening up with a flower between his teeth.’
    • ‘Yet the product that emerged, as the Russians soared and twisted and somersaulted, was one of grace and elegance and hard-to-imagine body control.’
    • ‘With three points in it, Glasgow went on the attack, Henry somersaulting over a tackle to secure the result and the bonus point.’
    • ‘In 1990 he became a prizewinner, at the Mondial du Cirque du Demain in Paris, with a performance including dancing and somersaulting on the Tight Wire.’
    • ‘Our neighbor - a kind man, really - gritted his teeth and looked the other way as they somersaulted and tumbled on its velvety surface.’
    • ‘The car struck a row of trees before somersaulting on to its roof and returning spinning to the road.’
    • ‘Moving at a speed higher than most people comprehend, Dice rolled to the left to avoid the first bullet then somersaulted back onto the boot of the car.’
    • ‘When she wouldn't stop somersaulting and cartwheeling in the front room we decided to take her dancing.’
    • ‘Car parts were strewn and blood spattered on Solomon Hochoy Highway on Monday, as two cars collided and somersaulted, killing one man and injuring six people.’
    • ‘But that did not keep her from somersaulting to the top in the Soviet world of gymnastics.’
    • ‘A resident in Meggeson Avenue said: ‘I think the car knocked down a lamppost and somersaulted quite a few times.’’
    • ‘The only injuries this time are some pulled muscles in the back of my neck from somersaulting down the hill.’
    • ‘He saw the deer hurled into the air, its willowy body limply somersaulting like a stuffed toy.’
    • ‘Our keep-fit sessions were such fun - we hopped on one leg, somersaulted, balanced and scissored and although you loved to show off your skills, you loved me joining in.’
    • ‘The new fence is designed so that the top rail drops to one side when hit by a horse, saving the animal and rider from somersaulting.’
    • ‘Eye-witnesses reported seeing the car somersaulting.’
    • ‘It is understood that the teenager was a front seat passenger in the car which careered off the narrow road and somersaulted before crashing into trees.’
    • ‘The driver and his three passengers were injured after the car went out of control and somersaulted into a farmer's field.’
    • ‘While to the ordinary eye the witch is indistinguishable from those around her, to the priest she appears to be somersaulting through the air and turning cartwheels.’


Mid 16th century (as a noun): from Old French sombresault, from Provençal sobresaut, from sobre ‘above’ + saut ‘leap’.