som·​er·​sault ˈsə-mər-ˌsȯlt How to pronounce somersault (audio)
variants or less commonly summersault
: a movement (as in gymnastics) in which a person turns forward or backward in a complete revolution along the ground or in the air bringing the feet over the head
also : a falling or tumbling head over heels
somersault intransitive verb

Examples of somersault in a Sentence

The gymnast turned a somersault.
Recent Examples on the Web Sung to console some children through the distress of a thunderstorm, that Richard Rodgers melody does artful somersaults between major and minor keys. Washington Post Staff, Washington Post, 13 Feb. 2024 The Lions increased their lead to 21-10 before, late in the second quarter, Stafford converted a fourth-down pass and followed with a 38-yard touchdown pass across the middle to Tutu Atwell, whose youthful somersault into the end zone epitomized the Rams’ joyous late-season surge. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 15 Jan. 2024 The Jumbotron camera somersaults and shakes as the dancers fall to the ground, seemingly knocked unconscious by the aftershock. Abigail Covington, New York Times, 13 Oct. 2023 Morgan Pope shows off Disney’s new Indestructible robot, which can rollerblade, somersault, and perform other feats. IEEE Spectrum, 21 Nov. 2023 In 2021 a science module originally meant to launch in 2007 finally arrived, but since that time, it has been plagued by issues, including a misfiring thruster that briefly sent the station into a disturbing somersault. Meghan Bartels, Scientific American, 21 Nov. 2023 There were quick surprises: The sight of wide open arms could very well lead to a somersault. Gia Kourlas, New York Times, 3 Nov. 2023 Like, did a somersault and ran myself into the dirt. Lisa Deaderick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Oct. 2023 But Lindsay remembers holiday front yard activities at Yogi and Carmen’s house as carefree: Tossing a football; hitting a Wiffle Ball; playing croquet, horseshoes or tag or just doing somersaults down the hill. Stephen Borelli, USA TODAY, 28 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'somersault.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French sombresaut leap, ultimately from Latin super over + saltus leap, from salire to jump — more at over, sally

First Known Use

circa 1530, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of somersault was circa 1530

Dictionary Entries Near somersault

Cite this Entry

“Somersault.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a leap or roll in which a person turns heels over head


2 of 2 verb
: to perform a somersault

from early French sombresaut "somersault," derived from Latin super "over" and saltus "leap," from salire "to jump" — related to resilient

More from Merriam-Webster on somersault

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