Surf Slang

Want to know the latest in surfer speak? R-Z found here…


Radical / Rad – High performance or risk taking surfing, awesome or impressive.

Rag Dolled – See washing machine, getting tossed around by a wave like you’re a rag doll .

Rail – Rails are the sides of your surfboard, running from nose to tail and back again.

Rail Bang – To fall off and take the surfboard between the legs (Ouch!).

Rail to Rail – Keeping the surfboard constantly moving on the wave, from one rail of the surfboard to the other. This type of surfing helps keep up speed and get the most out of the wave.

Raked Over – To be hammered by incoming waves while paddling out.

Reef Tax – Cuts and grazes etc. from hitting the reef or rocks.

Reform – Where a wave that has already broken starts to build back up into a surfable wave.

Regular/Regular Footed – Surfing with your left foot forward – i.e. not Goofy

Rip/Riptide – A riptide is a strong current heading out to sea. It can be dangerous for surfers and swimmers alike. Check out the waves section to find out more details.

Rock Dance – Getting into or out of the surf over rocks.

Rocker – The bottom curve of a surfboard.

Roller – Another word for a top turn.

Roller Coaster – An enjoyable manoeuvre on 8 foot waves with a single fin gun, without a leash. To set up the manoeuvre it the days of old a long, smooth, deep bottom turn and then straight up the face to towards the lip as the you are almost upsidedown with the board pointing straight up. At the lip you are weightless as the lip pushes the board under your feet again as you become upright. — From here another bottom turn or the end of the ride if the wave dumps a closeout.

Santanas – Describing ‘Devil Winds’ that are warm brisk offshore winds off the California coast. This term was used extensively by SoCal surfers during the 60s.

SAS/Surfers Against Sewage – SAS is an organisation campaigning for clean water for all. These guys are incredibly high profile and lobby endlessly to ensure all water users are surfing in clean water. Check them out at and become a member. Everyone should become a member.

Shacked – Getting completely barreled, riding a phat tube.

Shaka – A common hand signal used by surfers, with an extended thumb and little finger. Hang loose!

Shoobie – Early 20th century tourists that would travel to the shore towns by train carrying their lunches in Shoe Boxes (shoobies).

Shootin’ the Curls – Slang meaning to go surfing.

Shoulder – The surfable part of the wave.

Shoulder Hop – Dropping in on a surfer who is already up and riding.

Shove-it – A shove-it is a manoeuver where the rider shoves the surfboard round underneath the feet, 180 or 360 degrees. It’s a good trick if you can do it.

Shred – Aggressive surfing moves on a wave with resulting spray over the backside visible to those on the outside. (You might have to research further slang to decipher this explanation)

Shubie – Someone who buys surf gear and clothing but does not surf. (see “Shoobie”)

Sick – A term used to describe when someone does something impressive, e.g. “that was a sick air” — not just because you have swallowed too much sea water.

Single Fin – A surfboard with a single centre fin.

Sketchy – The opposite of surfing smoothly with style.

Skeg – Sternward extension of the keel, or a single center fin on surf board.

Slash – A rapid turn off the top of the wave, hopefully throwing loads of spray off the top.

Slotted – Correctly positioned in a tube.

Snake / Snaking – Waves should be shared, but snakes take it all. To snake is to drop in out of turn.

Spit – Where spray blows out of the end of a barrel. Tube spit.

Sponger – A bodyboarder.

Springsuit – A short legged wetsuit (may have long or short arms). See all wetsuit types here.

Stacking – Waves are getting bigger.

Steamer – Another type of surfing wetsuit.

Steamer Lane – This is a famous Northern California surf spot.

Step Into Liquid – This is what happens when you go walking in puddles. It’s also the the name of a surf video by surf vid guru Dana Brown. Check it out at our video store: Step Into Liquid.

Stick – Surfer slang for a surfboard.

Stoked – Very happy.

Stringer – This is the bit of wood that runs up through the length of your surfboard. (It’s there if you have a fibreglass one and not one that you have fashioned out of an old ironing board!) More info is available on the surfboard information page.

Sucking Dry – Where breaking waves cause all the water to be drawn off the sea bed, leaving it exposed.

Surfers Ear – Surfers ear, or auditory exostosis, is an abnormal bone growth within the ear canal. Cold water surfers are particularly susceptible and should look at some form of prevention such as ear plugs.

Surfers Eye – Surfers eye is the slang term for Pterygiums, a medical issue which manifests itself as a clear, white, or pinkish membrane that grows over the inside corner of one or both eyes.

Surfers Knots

Soft-tissue swellings on the dorsum of the foot and just below the knee, as a result of kneeling for long periods of time on the surfboard while waiting for a wave.

SUP – Stand up paddleboard / paddleboarding.

Swallow Tail – You’ll really have to go and read up on the surfboard tail shapes section. I can’t be explaining everything over again.

Swell – Swell or groundswell refers to solid, real waves. (As apposed to rubbish wind chop) Why not read more on how waves are made.

Switch Stance – Riding the surfboard standing the other way round, i.e. if you’re regular footed you would be surfing goofy.

Tail – This is the bit of the surfboard at the opposite end to the nose. Read more about surfboard tail shapes.

Tailslide – The tailslide is a move where the tail of the board slides across the lip of the wave.

Thundoars – Island slang for (voice of thundering waters) meaning large waves.

Tow In – Catching big waves with the aid of a Jet ski.

Thruster – Popular name for a tri-fin shortboard.

Traction Pad – A traction pad is a permanent replacement for surf wax, stuck directly to the surfboard. It is normally seen placed just in front of the leash plug, providing grip for back foot. Full length grip is available, but is not seen so often. You might find it referred to as deck grip, traction, or a riser pad.

Trim – Keeping the surfboard in a straight line at the optimum angle and cruising down the line.

Tube – The tube is public transportation in London. Oh, you mean Tube! The tube is where the wave is hollow where it’s breaking. For some surfers it’s the be all of surfing. It’s sometimes called a barrel, keg, or pit.

Tubular – Describes hollow, barreling waves.

Turtle Roll – This is a technique for getting a longboard out though a breaking wave. (As apposed to duck diving for a shortboarder).

Twin Fin – A surfboard with two fins.

U & V – hmm, can’t think of anything right now, apart from UV rays, which is what the wetsuit protects us from

Wahine – A female surfer.

Wax – It smells nice, gets stuck in your chest hair (not you ladies!), and is used to stop your feet slipping off your board. Also, surf wax can be used as to repair almost anything — leaky roof, rusty zip… you name it.

Washing Machine – Getting spun around and around underwater by a wave.

Wetsuit – It’s made of neoprene, keeps out the cold, and makes you look like a seal.

Whitewater – The broken, turbulent part of a wave.

Wipe-out – Falling off your board is referred to as a wipe-out. Other terms are donut, mullering, eating it, taking a pounding, or pretty much anything else you would like.

Worked – To “get worked” is to wipe out and get thrown about while being held under by the wave.

Y – No “Y”s yet….

(e)Xtreme – Yes, you guessed — we couldn’t think of a surfing word truly beginning with “X.” Its definition is exactly the same as in the dictionary. Tow in surfing is the latest type of extreme surfing.

Xtrak – Xtrak is one of the leading manufacturers of surfboard traction pads. We’ve finally got a proper “X!!

Yallingup – Surf spot in Western Australia. (Now we are really struggling!)

Yew – Shout out out when very excited. Fully sick yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew! When a big wave is spotted or someone got a gnarly wave


Hmmm, I’m still working on Z…