Saturday, February 24Not Your Ordinary English-Tagalog Dictionary

What is Spinning Top in Tagalog? Origin, Types, and How to Play

The spinning top in Tagalog is called “turumpo” or “trumpo,” and is one of the oldest toys in the world. This traditional toy is called “trompo” in Spanish, “koma” in Japanese, and “Doppisch” in German. Despite not being popular today, the turumpo will never die. In fact, International Top Spinning Day is celebrated every October, with varying dates. 

turumpo in tagalog
Filipino kids playing turumpo

The origin of the spinning top dates back to around 6,000 years ago. Archaeologists found a clay spinning top in Iraq, dating back to the 35th century BC, and was dubbed the world’s oldest spinning top. A carved wooden top was among those that was found in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun (King Tut) of Egypt, who reigned from 1332-1323 BC. 

As we all know, modern spinning tops have a half sphere on the top part and a conical section at the bottom. A nail is embedded at the center of the bottom and will serve as the stand while the top is spinning. To spin a top, a rope is held around the top. The player will pull the rope and throw the top downwards, which will create the spinning. 

But while most tops are manual, there are also a few mechanical tops, which use mechanical parts to enhance the spinning. According to the Guinness World Records, the longest-running mechanical spinning top is the prototype version from Jointo Entertainment of Spain. It spun for a whopping 41 hours, 15 minutes, and 18 seconds! 

In the Philippines, the top’s body is made from “bayabas” (guava tree), “ipil” (lead tree), or “sampaloc” (tamarind tree). It usually has a diameter of 30-60 cm and a height of 4-6 cm. The nail is around 2-4 cm long, while the rope (“tyate”) is 80-100 cm long. It has a single knot at one end and a knot with “tansan”(bottled soda cap) at the other end. 

How to Play Turumpo in the Philippines 

Playing the spinning top in the Philippines can be in the form of exhibition games or by group outdoors, which is more exciting. If the spinning is unbalanced, it is called “kangkarot.” This is usually due to the unsharpened nail tip or the nail was not properly attached. On the other hand, tops that are spinning smoothly and balanced are called “matining.” 

To play the turumpo in groups, a circle with a diameter of 30-60 cm is drawn on the ground. The players will then spin their tops at the same time, and the one that stops first will be the “taya.” The losing player will place his turumpo at the center of the circle. The other players will try to hit it by throwing their tops from a line about 4-6 feet away.

Once a player hits the “taya” while his top is still spinning, he can try again until the “taya” will be out of the circle. If the player succeeds, he will manually hit the “taya” using the nail of his top and damage it. On the other hand, a player who regularly misses or his top did not spin will be the next “taya.” No one can cheat since all players are watching closely.

For the exhibition game, a player will throw his “turumpo” in the air and catch it with his palm or on the “tansan.” Each player should show their best moves to impress the judges. In most cases, the tops in the contest have different colors and gorgeous designs for additional points. Most importantly, the tops should spin beautifully as long as possible.

Use turumpo in a sentence.


Magaling ako maglaro ng turumpo noong bata pa ako. Sana, mauso uli.


I’m good at playing spinning tops when I was young. I wish it would be popular again.

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