204 Surfing Terms: Slang For Surfers!

Surfing terms can be hard to learn when your new to surfing, especially when everyone out back already knows the slang and lingo.

Don't worry, we have listed over 200 surfing terms so that you can check in with what certain lingo means.

Surf slang is something that is forever evolving so its important to stay up to date, let's get into these surfing terms!

Most Common Surfing Terms

The most common surfing terms used by surfers include stoked, kook, carve, goofy and tube to name a few!

List of Surfing Terms

360: A surf move consisting of turning the surfboard at a 360-degree angle while on the face of a wave.

A-frame: A wave-shaped peak that will break both left and right, equally.

Aggro: Aggressive surfing/surfer (watch out for these!)

Air or Aerial: A manoeuvre in which the board leaves the surface of the water/wave into the air.

Akaw: Awesome or cool.

Aloha: A Hawaiian greeting that means "hello" or "goodbye."

Amped: Feeling excited or pumped up.

Ankle slappers: Waves that are too small to ride.

Backdoor: Going inside a tube/barrel, also known as the curl of the wave, from behind its peak.

Back Paddling/Paddler: Paddling around someone to get inside position on a peak.

Bailing: Jumping off your board into the water to avoid a bad encounter.

Barney: A surfer that is not cool, untalented, a rookie.

Barrel: A tube, the curl of the wave, the hollow part of a wave when it is breaking, and one of the most sought-after things in surfing. This is a very popular one out of all the surfing terms.

Beach Break: The places where the waves break over sandbars.

Beach Bum: Someone, usually a surfer, that hangs around the beach.

Benny: A person who is not a local.

Bellyboard: A bodyboard, a small board used to ride waves in a prone position.

Bitchin’: Awesome, amazing, great – as in ‘bitchen waves bro’.

Blank: A rough block of polyurethane foam that will be transformed into a surfboard.

Bodyboard: A small board that you ride on your belly, also known as a booger, a boogie board, dick dragged, or clam dragger.

Bomb: A massive wave.

Bottom turn: A turn that is made at the bottom of the wave; a very important manoeuvre that sets the tone for the ride.

Break: When the swell of the water breaks, turning into waves and white water.

Bro: Dude, brother, surfer – can be both male or female.

Carve: A manoeuvre that is a sharp turn on the face of the wave.

Caught inside: Being caught between the shoreline and the breaking waves.

Charging: Aggressively going for a wave.

Choppy: Rough waves due to wind conditions.

Chunder: Totally un-surfable waves.

Clam Dragger: Female bodyboarder.

Clean wave: A smooth wave, with no bumps.

Closeout: When a wave breaks suddenly and all at once.

Clucked: Being scared of waves.

Crease: Damage to the surfboard.

Crest: The highest point of a wave, the top of the wave.

Curl: The area of the wave where it is breaking.

Cutback: A surf move done sharply in the shoulder or the wave or on its flats to get back on the surf line.

Cutting off: The action of catching a wave in front of a surfer who was going for it and was closer to it, stealing a wave – also known as snaking.

Dawn patrol: Going surfing first thing in the morning.

Deck: The top surface of a surfboard.

Dick dragger: A derogatory term referring to the action of lying down on your board while riding a wave, usually used for bodyboarders. A female version is a clam dragger.

Ding: Any damage done to your surfboard. Out of surfing terms we hope you don't use this one!

Double up or humpback: When two waves combine; one large wave closely followed by a smaller one.

Drop: The first part of a ride, when the surfer goes down the face of the wave.

Drop-in: Synonym for cutting off but also for dropping down the face of a wave.

Epoxy: A type of plastic resin used to produce surfboards for many surfers.

Fetch: The uninterrupted distance over which the wind blows without a significant change of direction.

Fin: A hydrofoil mounted at the tail of a surfboard to improve directional stability and control through foot-steering.

Firing: Amazing and spectacular wave conditions.

Flat: With no waves or with no surf.

Flats: The horizontal part of a breaking wave, also known as the shoulder.

Flippers: Swim fins.

Floater: A manoeuvre where the surfer rides the highest point of the wave, appearing to “float” on the crest.

Foam: The whitewater/whitewash.

Foam blank: The block of foam from which a surfboard is shaped.

Foam board: A surfboard for beginners, with an exterior shell made of soft foam.

Frontside: When a surfer rides facing the wave.

Froth: Stoked, amped, or excited.

Fullsuit: A complete neoprene wetsuit.

Funboard: A mid-length surfboard, also known as Malibu or minimal.

Greenroom or Inside The Greenroom: The inside of a barrel.

Grom: A young and inexperienced surfer; also known as a grommet or gremmie.

Gnarly: Good/Awesome. A well known one out of the surfing terms.

Goofy: A surfer who surfs with their left foot at the back.

Grubbing: Falling off the surfboard while surfing.

Glassy: A surf condition with no wind or ripples on the waves.

Gun: A big wave surfboard.

Hang Eleven: Used to describe a male surfer who rides naked.

Hang Five: Riding a surfboard with one foot placed on the nose of the board and five toes hanging over the nose.

Hang Loose: The salutation that accompanies the sign of Shaka.

Hang Ten: Riding a surfboard with both feet placed on the nose of the board and your toes hanging over the nose. When it comes to surfing terms this is a very common one.

Header: To fall off a surfboard from the front, headfirst.

Heavy: Big, awesome waves that are sometimes dangerous.

Heat: A competitive period held in surf contests.

Helicopter: A surf move where the surfer spins their surfboard around from its nose.

Hit the lip: When a surfer turns up their surfboard to hit the falling lip of the wave, allowing the surfboard to be smashed down.

Hodad: A person who hangs around the beach and does not surf.

Hollow: Barrels, tubes.

Impact zone: The place where the waves are breaking the hardest and where beginners tend to get hurt.

Inside: The place between the shore and the impact zone.

Into the soup: Inside the foam, the white water.

Jacking: When the wave swells rapidly, from deep waters to shallow ones.

Jake: A surfer who inadvertently is in the way of more experienced surfers. This is one that isn't that well known out of the surfing terms.

Juice: The power of the wave.

Junkyard dog: A surfer with poor style.

Keg: A barrel, a tube, and something that holds beer after surfing.

Kick out: Finishing the ride by going over the back or through the wave.

Kickflip: Rotating the surfboard 360 degrees while in the air.

Kneeboard: A special type of board meant for riding on knees.

Knot: A unit to measure speed equal to one nautical mile per hour.

Kook: A rookie surfer or someone who isn’t very good at surfing.

Layback: Laying backward on the wave.

Leash: The piece of material that ties the leg to the surfboard.

Left: A wave that breaks on the left of the surfer, from the peak.

Line up: The area in the water, away from the swell, where the surfers wait to get their turn at catching a wave. This is probably the most popular out of all the surfing terms.

Lines: The swell when it is approaching the shore.

Lip: The upper-most part of a wave, right before it breaks.

Localism: Hostility by local surfers towards non-local surfers. When it comes to surfing terms this one that you need to understand.

Locked in: When a surfer gets caught inside a crashing wave.

Log: Another word used for a longboard.

Longboard: A surfboard with a round nose that is at least 8 feet long.

Lull: The moment of calm between swells.

Macking: Huge waves breaking or when it’s really fun and powerful.

Making the drop: Catching a wave and sitting on the lower part of the wave’s shoulder.

Maxed out: Waves that are too large to break without closing out.

Men in grey suits: Sharks.

Messy: Irregular and unpredictable waves.

Mini Simmons: Surfboard hull design style invented by Bob Simmons.

Mullering: Wiping out.

Mush/Mushburger: Soft non-surfable waves, without any energy.

Namer: A surfer who shares a secret surf spot with others.

Neoprene: The stretchy rubber material used to make wetsuits.

Noah: Shark.

Noodle arms: Tired arms. When it comes to surfing terms this one is now very popular for surfers tired from paddling to the lineup.

Nose: The front and pointed part of the surfboard.

Nose guard: A rubber tip meant to protect the nose of the surfboard.

Nose riding: A longboarding move where the person surfs on the nose of the board.

Nug: A good wave.

Off the lip: Re-entry.

Offshore: Winds that are blowing from the shore towards the ocean. These two surfing terms are related and will become common knowledge for surfers.

Onshore: Winds that are blowing from the ocean towards the shore.

Outside: The place beyond the lineup; beyond the place where the waves break.

Outside break: The furthest place from the shore where the waves are still breaking.

Over the falls: Refers to when a surfer goes over the lip and into the face of the wave.

Overgunned: When the board is inappropriate for the surfing conditions.

Overhead: When a wave is higher than an average surfer.

Paddlepuss: A person who plays in the white water and is afraid to stray from the beach.

Paipo: A very small bellyboard.

Party wave: A wave that several people are surfing.

Peak: The highest point of a breaking wave that generates both left and right surfable shoulders.

Pearl: When a surfer’s buried the nose of their surfboard into the wave.

Peeling: When a wave breaks perfectly. This is a phrase that is now very popular among the surfing terms list.

Pet The Cat: Where the rider bends down, and has their hand at water level.

Pig dog: A position that reflects the surfer grabbing onto the rails while inside a barrel.

Pintail: A surfboard tail shape that is perfect for hollow surfing.

Pit: The barrel of a large and strong wave.

Pitted: Tubed or Barreled (“So Pitted!”).

Pit Dive: When you don’t make the drop and end up diving into the bottom of the wave.

Pipeline: Pipeline is a thick, hollow wave that breaks in shallow water over the coral reef.

Pocket: The power pocket of a barrel or powerful wave and where you want to position yourself. This has become of the most popular surfing terms.

Point Break: A type of wave that is found around a point of land, a coastline with a headland.

Pop up: The move surfers make to move from lying on the surfboard to standing up to surf.

Pull in: Turning the surfboard up to enter a barrel.

Pumping: Decent surfing conditions. This is one of the most popular surfing terms.

Quimby: A beginner surfer who is usually annoying.

Quiver: A surfer’s surfboard collection.

Racy: A fast surfable wave.

Rad/Radical: Awesome and impressive surfing.

Rails: The sides of the board.

Rail bang: To take a surfboard between the legs while falling. Can also be one surfer hitting the other’s surfboard on the rail of another surfer while riding a wave.

Raked over: To be pounded by strong waves when paddling out to catch a wave.

Re-entry: When a surfer goes through or over the lip of the wave and then goes back in.

Reef Break: A type of wave that breaks over rock or coral.

Regular footed: A surfer who surfs with their left foot forward (this means that they don’t face the wave on lefts).

Ricos: Rich, perfect.

Right: A wave that breaks on the right of the surfer, from the peak.

Riptide: A stretch of water that is particularly turbulent.

Rock dance: The moves made by surfers who exit the water through a rocky section.

Rocker: The curve under the surfboard.

Section: The location in the water where the waves aren’t breaking and where surfers are waiting their turn to advance and ride.

Set: A series of waves that are approaching the lineup.

Shacked: Riding a great, big barrel; not quite barrelled with the lip just overhead.

Shaka: A sign surfers use, made by extending the thumb and the little finger.

Shape: A word used to rate the quality of the breaking waves (perfect shape is when the wave breaks evenly).

Shore break or shorepound: Mostly un-surfable waves that break very right on the shore.

Shoulder: The part of the breaking wave that is unbroken.

Shove-it: The act of moving the surfboard (180 or 360 degrees) under the surfer while riding a wave.

Shubie: A person who buys a surfboard and surf clothing but does not surf.

Sick: Astounding, impressive, amazing. A very commonly used surfing terms.

Skater: Refers to a surfer, usually a grom, who uses the wrong or insufficient wax, and keeps sliding off their deck.

Slotted: A surfer well-positioned inside a barrel.

Soft board: A surfboard with a soft surface, meant for beginners.

Soup: Whitewater.

Spit: The water that gets sprayed out from a barrel.

Spit out: The action that occurs when a surfer exits a barrel alongside air and foamy water.

Sponger: A derogatory term for a bodyboarder.

Stall: A surf move meant to slow down the surfboard.

Stick: A surfboard.

Stoked: Pumped, extremely happy, excited.

Sucking dry: The action performed by powerful breaking waves, causing the seabed to become exposed.

Surf camp: Surf vacation with accommodation included, where an instructor teaches surfing.

Surfer’s knots: Swellings on the front side of the leg, below the knee, as a result of kneeling on the surfboard waiting for a wave.

Surfs Up!: Very good surfing conditions. As well as one of the most popular surfing terms it is also a great film!

Swell/groundswell: Surfable waves.

Tail: The backside of the board.

Take off: To catch a wave.

Through: The bottom of the wave as it starts breaking.

Tombstoning: When the surfer is wiped out and sinking below the surface, and their surfboard is bobbing up and down connected to them through a leash.

Tow in: Used by big wave surfers, it refers to being towed in by a jet ski to the place where the big waves are.

Tube: Barrel, the hollow of the wave.

Tubular: Awesome, great, rad.

Tribes: Surfing populations isolated by time and space, distinguishable by beliefs, values, history, and ecology.

Turtle roll: A technique used to get the surfboard to go through a breaking wave; it implies hanging on to the rails, turning over so that the surfer is fully submerged and the fins of the surfboard become visible.

Twin fin: A twin fin surfboard.

Victory at Sea: Waves big and unrideable like the movie.

Wall: A face of the wave that has no area to ride on.

Washing machine: Getting rolled around underwater by a breaking wave.

Wave hog: A surfer who will not share a wave.

Wax: The substance surfers use on their surfboard to help with traction.

White water: A broken, foamy wave.

Wipeout: Falling off a wave while surfing.

Worked: Getting knocked off by a wave and then being in the washing machine.

YEW!: Can be used as a greeting, but it is mainly shouted while a surfer is catching or has recently finished riding a gnarly wave. Yew is one of the most common surfing terms.

Apologies if we have missed any surfing terms! Please add them in the comments so we can keep this list up to date!

Surfing terms are common in Hollywood films such as Surfs Up and Nemo so be sure to watch these films!

If surfing quotes are more your thing, we've got you covered!

If unsure what surfing terms are, check out this iconic video explaining surfing terms!

Where Do Surfing Terms Come From?

Surfing terms have been around for centuries, however the advances in technology and communication has enabled surfing slang to spread to the mainstream. 

Combining elements of Hawaiian pidgin, beach slang, and a sense of camaraderie among surfers, a unique surfing language exists which can be referred to as surf slang. 

Surfing terms drift in and out of fashion but certain phrases stay and are commonly used by members of the public!

Summing It Up: What To Do Now

Now you can confidently understand surfing terms, it's time to start putting your new surf slang into practice! Feel free to refer back to the surfing terms glossary if unsure!

If your interested in learning more about surfing discover our many guides that will inform you on your surfing journey. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Instagram to stay informed on our amazing surf shots and stories shared from surf creators around the world!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is surf slang?

Surf slang is informal vocabulary used by surfers to describe aspects of surfing culture, waves, equipment, and the surfing experience.

What do Australian surfers say?

Australian surfers may use greetings like "G'day mate," and slang terms like "Grommet" for young surfers and "Stoked" for expressing enthusiasm.

How do surfers say bro?

Surfers commonly use the word "bro" as a friendly way to address each other.

What is the saying that surfers say?

Surfers often say "Hang loose" or "Hang ten" to express a laid-back, relaxed attitude.

How do you greet a surfer?

Greet a surfer with casual and friendly expressions like "Hey, dude," "What's up, bro?" or "How's it going?"

What is surfer girl slang?

Surfer girl slang is similar to general surf slang, but it may include terms specific to female surfers. There isn't a distinct category, but some female surfers may use "Sis" or "Sister" in a supportive manner.

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