Italian Word of the Day: Ruzzolone (tumble / hard fall)

A fun Italian word that sounds just like its meaning is ruzzolone (masculine, plural: ruzzoloni), which translates as a tumble or hard fall in English.


It derives from the verb ruzzolare (to tumble / to roll) which can ultimately be traced back to the Latin word rota meaning wheel.

To take a tumble translates as fare un ruzzolone in Italian. To emphasise that it was a particularly bad fall, you can add the adjectives brutto (bad) or gran (great) in front.

Ha fatto un brutto ruzzolone giù da una scalinata.

He took a nasty tumble down a staircase.

The plural form often appears in the adverbial phrase a ruzzoloni or just ruzzoloni on its own, which best translate as tumbling or while tumbling.

È venuto giù dalle scale a ruzzoloni.

He slipped down the stairs, tumbling as he went.
He slipped and tumbled down the stairs.

competitor fell while skiing and laughing.
Lo sciatore ha fatto un gran ruzzolone! = The skier took a nasty tumble.

In a figurative sense, ruzzolone is used when an influential individual in the political, social or economic sphere suddenly loses authority following an accident or an unexpected event.

Some terms that share the same origin include:

  • ruzzola = a thick wooden disc used in the now-obsolete game of the same name
  • ruzzolante = tumbling, rolling
  • ruzzolata = a noun with the same meaning as ruzzolare

A close synonym is capitombolo which means tumble or head first fall.

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