December 14

Surfing Slang Mega-List: 127 Surf Lingo Terms Every Surfer Should Know…

SURF

2  comments

Ah, Surfing Slang, you've got to love it haven't you?

A dialect that makes literally no sense whatsoever to 99% of the worlds population, yet is so fitting in the surfing environment.

I'm not going to lie there's some whacky-as terms that have caught on over the years and it's no wonder that new surfers struggle to get to grip with these strange surfing terms.

But not any longer...

Below 👇I'll be translating all of this surfing lingo down for you, in a bitesized - easy to digest format.


WHAT IS SURF SLANG?

Surf slang is the dialogue that surfers use to explain everything surf related. 

With unique surfing terms to explain everything imaginable, it's become almost a dialect in its own right.

The list of surfing lingo is long and random to say the least, but hopefully the mega list below will help to clarify things a little for you...


THE ULTIMATE A-Z LIST OF SURFING TERMS

Get ready for the the ultimate list of literally every surfing term in the book.

There's some whacky stuff in here, so get your pen and paper ready...

You might need it.


A-FRAME

A wave with a defined peak breaking both left and right. Perfect for sharing with mates.

A-FRAME BREAKING WAVE

AGGRO

Aggro is surf slang for an aggressive surfer. You know the ones, they usually paddle around splashing and cursing.

AIR OR AERIAL

An aerial is an advanced surfing manoeuvre where a surfer projects their surfboard out above the lip of the wave (like an ollie on a skateboard).

AMPED

When you're feeling super excited to surf: "Oh man, I'm so amped to get out there, it's firing!"

ANKLE SLAPPERS

Tiny waves only ankle high that are too small to surf.

BACKDOOR

Pulling into a tube from behind the peak: "I just back-doored the hell out of it, and it just spat me out!"

BACKHAND

When a surfer rides across a wave with their back facing the wave.

BACKFLIP

An arial manoeuvre where a surfer does a backwards summersault in the air, landing back into the wave.

BAIL

Bailing is a surfing term for when you ditch your surfboard instead of duck-diving. Usually done when a wave is about to break on your head 😬

BARREL

A barrel is the same as a tube, referring to the area inside of a breaking wave. Riding inside a barrel is pretty much the best thing you'll ever experience.

BEACH BREAK OR BEACHIE

A typical surf break that breaks on sand - think just your average, bog-standard beach.

BOMB

"There's a frickin BOMB coming!!!", Yup, you guessed it, Bomb is surfing lingo for an above average sized set wave that's approaching.

BOMBIE

A break that's far out to sea that only turns on when the waves are big.

BOTTOM TURN

The bottom turn is where a surfer rides to the bottom of the wave, then transitions their board with speed, redirecting it towards the top of the wave. 

BREAK

"That wave's about to break on your head!", referring to the wave changing from an unbroken green wave, into a whitewater.

BRO

An affectionate surfer term used for friends, or strangers alike - "Sick wave Bro".

CARVE

A carve is a manoeuvre performed at speed whereby a surfer drives through a turn from the top of the wave to the bottom on their board using their rails - not just their fins. 

CAUGHT INSIDE

When you're stuck in the impact zone where the waves keep breaking and you're struggling to get out the back.

CHARGING

When a surfer is taking on big waves with reckless abandon. 

CHOPPY

Choppy waves are the opposite of clean waves - the result of the wind blowing onshore.

CLEAN UP SET

A bigger than average set of waves that breaks out past the pack, washing through all the surfers in the process.

CLEAN WAVES

Opposite of a choppy wave ☝️, caused from gentle offshore winds - or no wind at all.

CLOSEOUT

When the entirety of a wave breaks at the same time making it impossible to ride left or right. 

COFFIN DROP

Dropping into a wave, lying down with your feet first, laying on your back.

CREASE

When your board hasn't quite fully snapped, but is part way there.

CREST

The crest is the highest point on the waves face.

CURL

The curl is zone closest to the breaking part of the wave.

CUTBACK

A cutback is a manoeuvre whereby the surfer makes a complete direction change from the open face of the wave back towards the whitewater.

DAWN PATROL OR DAWNY

This is a term surfers use when they get up early to surf at sunrise.

DECK

The deck refers to the top surface of your board.

DING

There are two types of ding:

  • Pressure ding - A pressure ding creates a dent in your board but doesn't crack the resin.
  • Standard ding - An impact to your board that causes the resin to crack open. 

DOUBLE UP

A double up is surf lingo for when two waves join together to create a single wave - usually with more power and ferocity.

DRAGGING

Surfers use the term "dragging" when a surfer is riding the barrel, pig-dogging on their backhand, they drag their butt into the wave to slow themselves down.

DRAGGING CORN

An Australian slang term for dragging your butt in the wave in the tube.

DOPE

A surfers term fro something that's good.

DROP

The initial stages of a wave where the surfer 'Drops' from the top of the wave to the bottom.

DROPPING-IN

A drop-in in surfing is when someone knowingly (or unknowingly) paddles for, and surfs a wave when somebody else already has the right of way. 

FEATHERY

When strong offshore winds are present and the waves lose a little power when they break.

FIZZING

Fizzing is a term surfers use when they're excited for what is to come.

FOREHAND

When a surfer rides across the wave with the wave facing their chest.

FROTHING

My favourite, a surf slang term of them all - used for when you're excited: "I'm frothing so bad right now!".

FULL ROTA

An air reverse with a complete 360° rotation in the air.

GOOFY FOOTER

A surfer who rides with their right foot forward.

GORKIN FLIP

A backside double grab inverted 360° air. 

GROM

A kid surfer.

GUN

A surfboard designed specifically for surfing big waves.

HANG FIVE

A longboard manoeuvre whereby a surfer hangs five toes over the nose of their board whilst riding a wave.

HANG LOOSE

"Hang loose" is a surfing phrase often associated with Hawaiian surf culture - a gesture of friendly intent represented by the shaka sign 🤙

HANG TEN

Riding a Longboard with both feet at the nose of the board with all ten toes hanging over.

HAMMERED

When a surfer has a bad wipeout.

HEAD DIP

When a surfer ducks their head in a small barrel that's not hollow enough to fit into properly.

HEAVY

When waves break with lots of power, oftentimes gauged by how thick the lip of the breaking wave is.

HELICOPTER

A Longboard surfing manoeuvre where the surfer rides the nose of their board, then pivots/spins their board around in a 360 degree motion.

HOLLOW

Referring to waves that are barreling.

IMPACT ZONE

The zone where the waves break consistently and continuously.

INSIDE

Opposite to 'out the back', the inside is anywhere 'inside' of the impact zone.

JACKING

"That wave just jacked up right in front of me!". Referring to a wave that goes quickly from a swell to a lurching wave about to break.

KEG

Yet another phrase surfers use to describe a tube/barrel: "I just got the sickest keg!"

KICK OUT

A kick-out is where a surfer pulls off a wave intentionally.

KOOK

A  kook is a term surfers use in reference to someone that generally has all the gear no idea, or is totally clueless to surfing culture and surfing norms.

LAYBACK

A manoeuvre performed at speed where the surfer lays into a carving turn by leaning back heavily.  Occasionally the surfer will lean so far back that they'll be lying on the surface of the wave on their back, before being pushed back onto their board by the wave.

LEASH, LEGGIE, LEGROPE

The chord that attaches around your ankle connecting you to your surfboard to stop it from floating away from you.

LINEUP

The area where surfers sit waiting to catch waves.

LINES

Lines or swell lines refers to the oncoming waves forming out to sea that can be seen from the beach or lineup.

LIP

The part upper most part of the wave just as it is beginning to break.

PARTS OF THE WAVE

LOCALISM

Localism refers to surf spots where the local surfers believe they have the divine right to surf the waves over other visiting surfers. 

LULL

A longer than usual pause between sets of waves.

MACKING

When waves are big and unruly.

MAXED OUT OR MAXING

When waves are too big for a particular surf spot to handle.

MESSY

When waves are onshore, breaking without any uniformity.

MUSHIE/MUSHBURGER

Soft breaking waves with little to no power.

NEW SCHOOL

New school is one of those surfing phrases that refers to surfers who align with the more progressive side of the sport rather than the older, more classical approach.

NOSE

The term surfers use to describe the front of a surfboard.

NOSE-RIDING

The act of riding at the nose of a longboard.

NUG OR NUGGET

A diamond in the rough, a sneaky quality wave that comes through.

OFFSHORE

Winds that are blowing from the shore out to sea.

ONSHORE

Winds that are blowing from the sea towards the shore.

OUTSIDE

Same as 'out the back', the outside refers to the point past the impact zone where the waves no longer break.

OVER THE FALLS

When a surfer is dragged over with the lip of the wave, and subsequently gets smashed!

OVER-GUNNED

When a surfers board feels too big for the waves they're riding.

OVERHEAD

When the wave height is higher than your head.

PARTY WAVE

When you and a friend/s ride a wave together.

PEAK

The highest point of an approaching wave before it beaks.

PEELING

When a wave breaks and continues breaking down the line for a long period of time.

PIG-DOG

A technique used by surfers riding on their backhand to maintain control, and ride inside the barrel without falling.

PIT

Same as barrel, tube, keg.  "I just got the sickest pit!".

POCKET

The part of the wave closest to the power source/curl.

POINT BREAK

A wave that breaks off a headland whereby the waves wrap around causing the waves to peel for long periods.

POP-UP

The motion of going from your belly (prone position) to your feet on your board.

PULL IN

Where a surfer attempts to enter into the barreling part of the wave.

PUMPING

When the waves are really, really good. "Oh my god, the waves are pumping!"

QUIVER

A selection of different surfboards owned by one individual.

RACY

Refers to a wave that breaks down the line quickly.

RAILS

The sides of a surfboard.

RE-ENTRY

A manoeuvre whereby a surfer connects with the lip of the wave and projects their board - changing direction in the process - back to the beach

REGULAR FOOT

A surfer that rides with their left foot forward.

RIP

A body of water moving out to sea.

ROCKER

Refers to the curve of a surfboard from nose to tail.

SLOP

A surfers term for small, gutless, weak, choppy onshore waves.

SECTION

A section refers to a part of the wave that is about to break. Surfers look for sections to perform manoeuvres.

SET

A group, or series of larger waves that are approaching a lineup.

SHACKED

Getting shacked is the same as getting tubed.

SHAKA

Same as the Hang-Loose sign, 🤙

SHAPE

You'll hear surfers talk a lot about shape.  What they're referring to is the way the wave is breaking and how well formed (or not) the wave is.

SHORE BREAK OR SHOREY

Beach break waves that come out of deeper water to break close to the shore producing more powerful, sucky waves.

SHOULDER

The part of the unbroken wave away from the curl.

SICK

Good, cool, extraordinary.

SKETCHY

Something that very nearly goes wrong: "Man, that drop was so sketchy!".

SLOTTED

When a surfer has got themselves slotted deep into a barrel.

SPAT OUT

"Spate-out" is one of those surfing phrases used when a surfer exits a barrel alongside the spit.

SPIT

The compressed turbulent water that is blown out of a tubing wave as it breaks.

STALL

The act of slowing your surfboard down, wiping off speed, often used to set up a barrel, or for noseriding a longboard.

STICK

Another name for a surfboard.

STOKED

Super happy, frothing, excited.

SUCKING UP OR SUCKIE

When a wave comes from deep water and draws water over a shallow sand bank or reef.

SWELL/GROUNDSWELL

Referring to the unbroken waves out to sea, long before they hit the shore.

TAIL

The back of a surfboard.

TAKE OFF

The moment where a surfer commits to catching a wave.

TOMB-STONING

"Tomb-stoning" is an expression surfers use when a surfers board - after a big, heavy wipeout - whereby the board is pointed upwards due the the surfer being dragged and rag-dolled so deep underwater causing their leash to drag the board underwater.

TOW-IN

A term for surfers that get pulled into waves by a jet ski.

TUBE

Barrel, Keg.

TURTLE ROLL

A technique used by longboarders where they roll their board over to navigate through broken waves.

WALL

The face of the wave that is steep and good for performing manoeuvres.

WAVE HOG

A surf term for a greedy surfer that takes more than their fair share of waves.

WAX

Surfers use wax to add traction and grip to their boards.

WEDGE

A wedge is a wave that has rebounded off either a headland or manmade rock jetty. The most famous wedge in the world is found at Newport Beach, California.

WHITEWATER

The wave once it has broken.

WIPEOUT

An expression surfers use when a surfer falls whilst trying to stand up on a breaking wave.

WORKED

Getting worked refers to an unusually intense wipeout.

YEW OR YEEEEEEEEEW!

A call of excitement.


WRAPPING IT UP

Well there you have it, the complete guide to surfing slang.

But what have I missed? Got any surf lingo that absolutely has to be in the list?

Chuck any suggestions in the comments below and I'll add them to the post.

Yew!

Rowan 🤙


ROWAN CLIFFORD

Rowan is the nerd behind the scenes.  But when he's not knee-deep in code, you'll find him immersed in the crypto-world or sending it at his local beachie.


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