AskDefine | Define topple

Dictionary Definition



1 fall down, as if collapsing; "The tower of the World Trade Center tumbled after the plane hit it" [syn: tumble]
2 cause to topple or tumble by pushing [syn: tumble, tip]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. to push, throw over, overturn or overthrow something
    • The massed crowds toppled the statue of the former dictator
  2. to totter and fall, or to lean as if about to do so
    • The pile of pennies began to topple

Extensive Definition

For the aircraft nicknamed Cheburashka after this character, see Antonov An-72
Cheburashka (Russian: Чебурашка listen), also known as Topple in earlier English translations, is a character in children's literature, from a 1965 story by the Russian writer Eduard Uspensky. He is also the protagonist (voiced by Klara Rumyanova) of the animated film series by Soyuzmultfilm studio, the first episode of which was made in 1969.


According to the story, Cheburashka is a funny little animal, unknown to science, who lives in the tropical forest. He accidentally gets into a crate of oranges, eats his fill, and falls asleep. Cheburashka is not a personal name; it is a species name invented by the puzzled director of the shop where he is found. The salesman takes the animal out and sits him on the table, but his paws are numb after the long time spent in the crate, and he tumbles down ("cheburakhnulsya" (чебурахнулся), a Russian colloquialism, "tumbled" or "toppled" in English) from the table onto the chair and then from the chair, where he could not sit, for the same reason, onto the floor. The director of the shop, who witnesses the scene, called him Cheburashka. Words with this root were archaic in Russian; Uspensky gave them a new lease on life. (The 19th-century Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian language of Vladimir Dal gives the meaning of "cheburashka" as another name for the vanka-vstanka tumbling toy.)

Cheburashka Russian animated film series

  1. Gena the Crocodile and His Friends (Крокодил Гена и его друзья) - 1969 (the same title as the 1965 story)
  2. Cheburashka (Чебурашка) - 1971
  3. Old Lady Shapoklyak (Шапокляк) - 1974
  4. Cheburashka Goes to School (Чебурашка идёт в школу) - 1983


Cheburashka has a bear-like body and large round ears and is about the size of a 5-year-old child; the gender of the creature is most likely male. In the tale, he hangs around with a friendly crocodile Gena, who wears a hat and a coat, walks on his hind legs and plays an accordion. He works in a zoo as a crocodile. Gena's favorite songs are "Birthdays Happen Only Once a Year" and "Blue Wagon".


In the cartoon, Cheburashka and Gena have their adventures made more difficult by a character named "Старуха Шапокляк" (Old Lady Shapoklyak, from French Chapeau-Claque, a kind of top hat). Shapoklyak is a mischievous but charming old lady. She is tall and thin, wears a hat and a dark-colored dress, and carries around her as sidekick a rat-like creature — "Lariska" — in her purse to help her play pranks on people. The chorus of her theme song contains her motto, "One won't ever get famous for good deeds".

Copyright controversy

The rights to the Cheburashka character and image have been heavily debated in court. In 1994, Eduard Uspenskiy (the writer) copyrighted the character's name and image and proceeded to sell the rights to various countries. Leonid Shvartsman, the art director of the animated films, has tried to prove in court that he was the creator of Cheburashka's visual appearance and that this copyright should be separate from the rights for the literary character. On March 13, 2007, Shvartsman and his attorney lost a 4.7 million ruble lawsuit against BRK Cosmetics and Eduard Uspenskiy. Shvartsman alleged that Uspenskiy sold the rights to the Cheburashka image (which was allegedly not his to sell) to BRK Cosmetics, which used it on packets of toothpaste. The defence argued that the artist who drew the character for the packets had never seen the animated films and, despite the fact that the character on the packets was an exact copy of the one in the animated films, had created the character himself after the impressions left from reading Uspenskiy's books. Vladimir Entin, the prosecuting attorney, suspects that the jury had to have been bribed in order to hand such an unlikely verdict, but admits that there is no proof.

Cheburashka spottings

Cheburashka was chosen as an official mascot for the Russian Olympic Team for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece. Cheburashka dolls were also seen with members of the Russian team in 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. He is also one of the few Russian animation characters to be a subject of numerous Russian jokes and riddles.
The word "Cheburashka" is also used in a figurative sense to name objects that somehow resemble the creature (such as an An-72 aircraft which, when seen from the front, resembles the character's head) or are just as nice as it is (e.g. a colloquial name for a small bottle of lemonade - from brand name "Cheburashka").
Cheburashka is now a staple of Russian cartoons, and there are several licensed products on the market, such as children's anecdotal books and stuffed toys.
Cheburashka also became known in some countries outside the former Soviet Union (and of the Soviet Bloc). He became very popular in Japan after an animated film series about him was shown in 15 cinemas all over Japan and was watched by approx. 700,000 Japanese between summer 2001 and spring 2002.

"Drutten och krokodilen Gena", Sweden

In the 1970s a series of children's television shows, radio shows, records and magazines were produced in Sweden featuring the characters Drutten and crocodile Gena. These two characters were based on a couple of Cheburashka and Gena dolls purchased on a trip to the Soviet Union, so they were visually identical to Cheburashka and Gena. "Drutten" is a fairly good approximation of a translation of "one who tumbles down", as one meaning of the Swedish colloquial verb "drutta" is "to fall or tumble down".
But that is where the similarity ends. The two characters sang and told different stories from those in the USSR and lived on a bookshelf rather than in a city. Only occasionally Swedish state TV would broadcast a segment of the Russian original, dubbed in Swedish. So, while many Swedes may visually recognize Cheburashka, they will generally not associate these characters with the ones Russian children know.


Cheburashka dolls and other collectibles are produced in Russia and Japan and sought after by collectors around the world. United States National Champion figure skater Johnny Weir is known to be an avid collector of Russian Cheburashka items.

The Cheburashka Song, Israel

The song is also available for young children in Israel. It is played on the (children's) Hop Channel in Hebrew.

Cheburashka movie

Ivan Maximov had said in a 2004 interview ( that Pilot Studio had been planning to make a Cheburashka feature film and that the scenario had been written out and possibly some footage shot, but that it had been frozen for lack of funds. Cheburashka's popularity in Japan is such that on April 4, 2006, TV Tokyo broadband issued a press announcement ( that it (in partnership with Frontier Works, Inc.) has acquired the rights to remake the Cheburashka shorts as a feature film. It is unclear if this was the very project that Pilot Studio had been forced to abandon. It was announced that the film, like the original shorts, will be based on puppet animation enhanced with modern stop-motion technology and computer graphics effects (similar to the plans for the Pilot Studio film), and would be shot simultaneously in two languages - English and Russian. No news have been released since that announcement.

External links


topple in Bulgarian: Чебурашка
topple in German: Tscheburaschka
topple in Spanish: Cheburashka
topple in Estonian: Potsataja
topple in French: Cheburashka
topple in Italian: Cheburashka
topple in Hebrew: צ'בורשקה
topple in Georgian: ჩებურაშკა
topple in Japanese: チェブラーシカ
topple in Norwegian Nynorsk: Tsjeburasjka
topple in Polish: Kiwaczek
topple in Russian: Чебурашка
topple in Finnish: Muksis
topple in Swedish: Drutten och Krokodilen
topple in Ukrainian: Чебурашка

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

ataxia, bite the dust, blow down, blow over, bowl down, bowl over, break down, break up, bring down, bulldog, capsize, careen, cast down, cave in, chaos, chop down, clutter, collapse, come a cropper, crumble, crumble to dust, culbuter, cut down, dash down, deck, defeat, disarray, disintegrate, disorder, down, drop, fall, fall down, fall flat, fall headlong, fall in, fall over, fall prostrate, fall to pieces, falter, fell, fetch down, floor, flounder, founder, get a cropper, go down, go to pieces, ground, hew down, huddle, keel over, knock down, knock over, lay level, lay low, lay out, level, list, lurch, mow down, muddle, oust, overcome, overset, overthrow, overturn, pitch, plunge, precipitate, prostrate, pull down, rase, raze, send headlong, slump, snarl, sprawl, spread-eagle, stagger, stammer, stumble, subvert, supinate, sway, take a fall, take a flop, take a header, take a pratfall, take a spill, take down, throw, throw down, tilt, tip over, topple down, topple over, topsy-turvify, topsy-turviness, topsy-turvy, totter, trip, tumble, turn a somersault, turn over, turn topsy-turvy, turn turtle, turn upside down, unhorse, unseat, upset, upturn, vanquish, whack down, wobble
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