Surf Slang

Want to know the latest in surfer speak? A-H found here


180/360 – The spin of a surfer’s board during a manoeuver in degrees, e.g. 360 degree turn.

A-Frame – The perfect barreling surf, a cross-section of an A-frame wave reveals an “A” shape where it is breaking soooo nicely.

Aggro – Aggressive attitude in the water; having a bad attitude.

Air/Aerial – An advanced surfing manoeuver where the surfer and board leave the surface of the wave.

Akaw! – Something surfers shout when they spot a huge perfect wave, or when they are shocked or surprised. Old School!

Amped – Getting excited while surfing or really looking forward to a surf.

Ankle Busters/Snappers – Small waves.

Backdoor – Entering a barrel from behind the peak of the breaking wave.

Backside – Surfing with your back towards the wave. A regular footed surfer going left or a goofy footed surfer going right will be surfing backside. The opposite is frontside.

Backwash – Waves/water heading back out towards the incoming wave where it has rebounded from the beach / cliffs / sea wall etc. Can make for some fun surfing.

Baggies – Loose, drawstring surf shorts.

Bail – To bail is to jump off the board to avoid an imminent wipeout.

Banks – Sand on the sea floor of a beach break. Beach break waves are dependent on the quality of the sand banks to provide good, surfable waves.

Barney – An inexperienced surfer, or someone who’s no good at surfing.

Barrel – A barrel is where the wave is hollow when it is breaking. For some surfers it’s the be all and end all of surfing. Is sometimes called a “tube.”

Beach Break – This is a wave that breaks over a sandy sea bed. You’ve not read up about waves, have you?

Beach Leech – The perfect description of a beach leech: “Some people don’t bring their own boards, and prefer to borrow your extra boards (they don’t rent). And for wax, some don’t really bring it. They just ask for some.”

Bells Beach – Bells Beach is one of the great right point breaks. Find it on the south Victorian coastline of Australia. Check out the Bells Beach Pro held in March every year. This was the setting for that tearful end bit in the movie “Point Break” when Patrick (twinkletoes) Swayze AKA Bodie ate it at the end of Point Break. (And no doubt that after reading the waves page and finding out what a point break actually is, you’re feeling particularly chuffed with yourself!)
It should also be pointed out that it was not actually Bells Beach where the scene was filmed but India Beach in Oregon. Thanks to Danny from Oregon for this info.

Benny – A non local.

Betty – One of the oldest and well know surf slang for a surfer girl who surfs.

Big Wednesday – A classic coming of age film telling the story of three surfing friends in California. Starring Jan-Michael Vincent, William Katt and Gary Busey.

Billabong – What Australians call a watering hole, but to everyone else it is one of the largest surfing equipment and clothing manufacturers out there.

Bitchin’ – Old school for really good or enjoyable.

Blank – The foam used to shape a surfboard.

Blown Out – Where the onshore wind turns the surf in to unrideable mush.

Board – The fibreglass thingy under your feet.

Boardshorts/Boardies – These shorts are quick drying, lightweight, and worn by those lucky enough to be surfing in warm water. Check the men’s boardshorts here and the women’s boardshorts here.

Bomb – A particularly large or heavy wave. “He took off on a bomb”.

Booger/Boogieboarder – Slang for body boarders.

Bottom Turn – This is the turn made at the base of the wave when coming down off the face. It’s often the first move made after dropping in. Get it right for great positioning for your next manoeuver.

Brah – slang term for brother, friend, fellow surfer.

Carve/Carving – The classic surfing manoeuver, carving is basically what turning on a wave is called. Carve is also a surfing magazine found in Europe.

Caught Inside – A surfer who is caught inside is too far in, and the waves are breaking further out. It can be dangerous in big surf.

Charging – A surfer really going for it on a wave, surfing aggresively. Charges, as in “ho, that guy charges“.

Chinese Wax Job – Getting wax on the bottom of your surfboard.

Choka – Bitchin’, awesome, great etc.

Choppy – Where the surface of the ocean is rough / bumpy.

Chowder – Used to describe the pollution conditions when there’s a turd in the lineup — “I caught some sick waves out there but it was hard trying not to swallow the chowder.”

Clean – Waves that break from a single peak along it’s length, providing an open face for a surfer to ride on. The opposite of messy.

Clean Up Set – A wave or set of waves that are larger than average and break before the line up, resulting in clearing the line-up of surfers.

Clidro – The process where a surfer turns up and down the face of the wave while surfing down the line.

Close Out – Where a wave breaks along its length all at once.

Clucked – Being scared of afraid of waves.

Corduroy – Swell lines that look like corduroy

Covered up – Where the lip of the wave breaks over a surfer, almost a barrel but not quite. “I just got a coverup.”

Cowabunga – Slang from 1960’s surf culture, cried out enthusiastically when surfing — The surfer’s cry “Cowabunga” as they climb a 12 foot wall of water and “take the drop.”

Cranking – When the waves are good, it’s said to be cranking.

Cripples/Crips – Derogatory term for booger (see derogatory term above), knee of SUP boarders.

Curtain – The outside part of the barrel. “I was deep in the barrel the curtain closed on me.”

Cross Step/Stepping – This is the art of walking up and down a longboard, foot over foot. When you see some guy / gal running up and down their board, you’ll now know what to call it.

Cutback – Making a cutback is reversing the direction that you are surfing in one smooth fluid move. (That’s the idea anyway.)

Dawn Patrol – Going surfing first thing in the morning.

Deck – The is the bit of the surfboard you stand on. (Hopefully you have your board the right way round in the water.)

Ding – Surfboard damage — “Oh dear me, I’ve dinged my board!” (Perhaps a little more profanity will be used.)

Dirty Lickings – Taking a gnarly wipeout.

Doggy Door – Exiting a barrel through the small hole left by the wave as it closes.

Double Overhead – The height of a wave twice as tall as the surfer.

Drive – Drive relates to acceleration and maintainenance of speed though turns.

Drop, The – The drop is where a surfer first gets up on the waves and drops down the face of the wave. It’s also referred to as “taking the drop.”

Drop In – Dropping in is a crime in the surf world. A drop-in is where a surfer catches a wave without having priority, i.e. there is already a surfer on the wave.

Drop Knee – Riding a longboard with one knee on the deck of the surfboard.

Drysuit – Protection when surfing in very cold water, when a wetsuit would not be effective for keeping warm.

Duck dive/Duck Diving – Duck Diving is diving under an oncoming wave when paddling out.

Dude – Can mean pretty much anything depending on the tone and inflection. (Thanks go to Corey Ferguson for this one.)

Dumping – Often caused by onshore conditions, where a wave will fold over in big sections, making it un-surfable.

Eat It – Wiping out on a wave.

El Rollo – A surfing manoeuvre. Riding the inside wall of the pitched lip (barrel), instead of the main wave wall, and coming out sideways.

Endless Summer – “Endless Summer” is the absolute classic surfing movie. Forget all this new school tricky stuff. Watch this movie, and if you are not a surfer before viewing, you’ll certainly want to be after.

Epic – Top class surf or extremely good waves; description of an awesome wave or surf session.

Face – The unbroken part of the wave.

Fakie – This is where someone rides backwards on the surfboard, tail first. It’s also what you are if you’re only reading this page so you can pretend that you’re a surfer.

FCS – FCS stands for fin control system. This is a type of fin that is fully removable from the surfboard. It’s ideal if you break a fin (you don’t have to get a new on glassed back on), or if you are travelling. (It’s best to remove the fins to keep your board from being damaged.)

Fin – The fin is the curved bit hanging down under your surfboard that you keep bashing when you tie your surfboard to the roof of your car. It’s sometimes called a skeg.

Firing – Firing is the same as “going off”, where the surf is really good and the waves are breaking nicely.

Fish – A type of surfboard shape, shorter and thicker than a standard shortboard. Fish surfboards are for surfing smaller waves.

Flat – No waves. Boo hoo!

Floater – Riding over the whitewater back onto the shoulder of the wave (you may need to consult the terms list further to understand this answer fully).

Foam – The broken part of a wave, another term for “Whitewater” or “Soup”.

Foamies – These are either whitewater waves or surfboards that are made out of foam. (They’re ideal for beginners.)

Foil – The rate of change of thickness of a surfboard from the nose to the tail.

Frontside – Surfing with your front towards the wave. A regular footed surfer going right or a goofy footed surfer going left will be surfing frontside. The opposite is backside.

Froth – The foam left after a wave has broken.

Frothin – Excited.

Frube – A surfer who does not catch a wave for the whole time they are in the water.

Fullsuit – Wetsuit with full arms and legs. See the types of wetsuits.

Funboard – A mid-length surfboard, often know as a minimal.

Gidget – This is the nickname of the title character created in a novel by Frederick Kohner (and adapted for three further films). Gidget is a contraction of “girl midget,” which is why it went on to be used to describe small female surfers.

Glass Job – The fibreglass finish on a surfboard.

Glassy – This is ultra-clean surf without a ripple that often looks like glass.

Gnarly – Particularly dangerous surf conditions.

Goat Boater – Derogatory term for kayakers and wave skiers.

Going off – If the surf is really good, you could say it’s going off.

Goober – Derogatory term for a longboard or a longboarder.

Goofy/Goofy Foot – Surfing with your right foot forward.

Green Room – Inside the tube or barrel.

Gremmie/Grommet/Grom – Any of the above can be used to describe a young or inexperienced surfer. Grommet is also the cute doggie character in the Nick Park animation creations. (And they are really rather good!)

Grey Belly – An older surfer with the big belly.

Grom Mum – The mom who taxis her kids everywhere, anytime for a wave. One who sits sipping coffee on the cold sand under blankets at 6 am just to see her kids stoked.

Grubbing – Falling off your board while surfing.

Gul – British surfing equipment manufacturer.

Gun – A surfboard designed for big waves.

Riding the nose/Hang Eleven – This is when a male surfer rides his board in the nude.

Hang Ten – If you’re riding a longboard with both feet directly on the nose of the board, you’re hanging ten. It’s also the name of a longboard magazine.

Heavy – Heavy has a couple of meanings. When used as in “heavy waves,” it means big, gnarly, kick ass waves. Teahupoo, Mavericks and Pipeline are three waves that would have to be described as heavy with a capital “H.” The same term can be used to describe the locals at a spot. (For the same kick ass reason!)

Ho-dad – Anyone who annoys board riders while they surf

Hollow – Tubing waves, a-frames, barrels.