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Ok, so you had your first surf lessons, you are totally hooked to this sport, you pop up just right and now you wanna be just like the pros, surf just like them, talk just like them. We found a pretty good selection of Surf Slang at SURFING WAVES , go check it out:

180 / 360

The spin of a surfer's board during a manoeuver in degrees, e.g. 360 degree turn.


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. Here are some great air photos.


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

Ankle Busters / Snappers

Small waves.


Entering a barrel from behind the peak of the breaking wave. Backdoor is also the name of the right hand wave that sometimes breaks at the famous wave of Pipeline.


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.


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.


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?


A non local.


The foam used to shape a surfboard.

Blown Out

Where the onshore wind turns the surf in to unrideable mush.


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.


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.


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


Where the surface of the ocean is rough / bumpy.

Close Out

Where a wave breaks along its length all at once.


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."


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.


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.


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


Surfboard damage — "Oh dear me, I've dinged my board!" (Perhaps a little more profanity will be used.)

Double Overhead

The height of a wave twice as tall as the surfer.


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. Please see diagram above. Remember, it's a CRIME!

Drop Knee

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


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. See duck diving in full detail in surfing lesson three — duck diving.


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

El Rollo

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


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


The unbroken part of the wave.


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.)


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.


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


No waves. Boo hoo!


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).


The broken part of a wave, another term for "Whitewater" or "Soup".


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


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


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.


The foam left after a wave has broken.

Frothin / Froathin



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


A mid-length surfboard, often know as a minimal; see funboard examples here.

Glass Job

The fibreglass finish on a surfboard.


This is ultra-clean surf without a ripple that often looks like glass. Click here to see a glassy wave.


Particularly dangerous surf conditions.


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.


A surfboard designed for big waves.

Hang Eleven

This is when a male surfer rides his board in the nude. (Such as nearby Black's Beach in San Diego: thanks to Gary M. Steinhaus for this one!)

Hang Loose

See Shacka.

Hang Ten

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


Tubing waves, a-frames, barrels.

Impact Zone

The spot where the waves are breaking.

In the Soup

A term used when a surfer is in the white foam of the wave after the wave has broken.


The area of whitewater where the waves have broken, between the shore and the line-up. Also, inside can be used to describe the section of a wave that breaks towards the end of the ride, closest to the shore.


Another word for a barrel / tube.

Kick Out

Finishing a ride by turning back out over the top of the wave.


A new school surf trick which involves rotating the board 360° along it's length while airborne, and landing back on the board. Here's a good example.


A beginner or someone who is not very good at surfing. A try hard. Someone who surfs to try and look cool. Someone who does not follow the rules in the lineup, drops in etc. Are you a kook?




The layback is a surfing manoeuver where the surfer literally lays backwards on a wave. It's one of surfing's more extreme tricks.

Leash / Leg rope / leggie

This is the cord that is attached between your leg and your surfboard. Click here for more information about a leash or find out about how to attach your surfboard leash here.


A wave that breaks from right to left from a surfer point of view when facing into the shore.

Line Up

The line up is the place just outside the breaking waves where surfers wait for their waves.


The tip of the breaking part of the wave.

Locked In

When a wave crashes and the surfer is inside of it.


Slang for a Longboard.


Slang for a Longboarder / someone who rides a Longboard.


A long surfboard with a rounded nose.


This is when the ocean goes flat between sets and everyone sits around waiting for the waves to arrive.

Mal / Malibu

Another description of a longboard surfboard.


This is a famous big wave spot off the California coast. Not to be confused with the film "Maverick", starring Mel Gibson, although you need to be pretty brave to tackle both.

Men In Grey Suits


Mush / Mushburger

Poor quality, slow, or non-powerful waves, often onshore.

New School

The term given to trick surfing — airs, shove-its, etc.

Noodled / Noodle Arms

Being exhausted or having tired arms.


Another term for shark.


The pointy bit of the surfboard; the bit that points away from you when you are paddling and riding.


This is when the wind at a surf break is blowing off the shore ;-), It makes for ideal surfing conditions.


This is when the wind is blowing towards the land, spoiling the waves. Always remember; offshore good, onshore bad!

Out Back / OTB

Beyond the breaking waves. "See you out back".


The area beyond the line-up. You'll sometimes hear surfers shout "Outside!" as a warning to other surfers that a larger than usual wave is approaching and will be breaking further out that normal.


Waves that are bigger that a surfer when standing up.

Party Wave

A wave surfed by several people at once.


This is the classic Hawaiian wave — amazing, barreling, and mean (see the pipeline surf spot map). It's one of the most famous and most photographed waves there is. If you have just read surfing lesson one - catching waves and are ready to go out and try surfing for the first time, then Pipeline is probably the last place on the planet you want to be.


Caught a tube, shacked.

Pivot Turn

A turn where the tail of the surfboard remains almost stationary while the rest of the board swings round.

Pocket / In the Pocket

The pocket is the most powerful part of the wave, just ahead of where the wave is breaking.


A mass produced surfboard made by machine.

Pop Up

Describes the move a surfer makes to go from lying on the surfboard, into the standing position to ride a wave.


Which surfer has the right of way, fully explained here.


A decent swell where the waves are nice and powerful; also used to describe a surfer trying to generate speed.


A surfer's collection of different surfboards. (I've heard people say it's the place where they keep their boards but not sure about that. Thanks go to Kris Carré who suggested "quiver" as an entry.)

Radical / Rad

High performance or risk taking surfing, awesome or impressive.


Rails are the sides of your surfboard, running from nose to tail and back again. More details can be found on the surfboard rail page.

Reef Tax

Cuts and grazes etc. from hitting the reef or rocks.

Regular / Regular Footed

Surfing with your left foot forward.

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.


The bottom curve of a surfboard.


Getting completely barreled, riding a phat tube.


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


The surfable part of the wave.


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)


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.


The opposite of surfing smoothly with style.


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


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.


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


A bodyboarder.


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


Waves are getting bigger.


Another type of surfing wetsuit.


Very happy.


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!)

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.


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 or groundswell refers to solid, real waves. (As apposed to rubbish wind chop)

Switch Stance

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


This is the bit of the surfboard at the opposite end to the nose. Read more about surfboard tail shapes. For more info on the other bits of the surfboard, have a look at the surfboard section.


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


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

Tow In

Catching big waves with the aid of a Jet ski.


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.


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.


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). See our how to turtle roll article for more info.

Twin Fin

A surfboard with two fins.


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.


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


The broken, turbulent part of a wave.


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.


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


A person with a free mind. Who doesn't have a care in the world. Usually a surfer, or a person who goes to the beach a lot.

Now go surfing and show us what you got:)


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