Surf Terms

Let’s all agree on the fact – that surfing is mostly performed by alternative athletic individuals. And what happens when a bunch of alternative athletic individuals all decide on using their very own expressions – a wild surfers slang appears. Let us introduce the surfing terms dictionary.

As an intro to surfing’s lingo, we recommend watching this legendary surfer express his hype. Take a look at this video to know is waiting for you down below:


Knowing the surfing terms will help you navigate the occasions freely with other surfers. We all know it is hard to describe the stoke when surfing, so hopefully, you’ll find relief to your needs right here!

A – Z

We have selected five main categories in which all the surfing terms will be found:


WAVES terms

Stoked = Hyped = Excited = Amped = Frothing

Mental = Crazy = Radical = Gnarly = Epic

SURFING slang explained

surfing terms

Aerial / Air – To jump off a wave with a board
Aggro – Aggressive surfer/type of surfing
Amped – Getting hyped about the surf

Backdoor – A way of entering wave under the peak, hollow section.
Bail – An action of failure during the surfing / Bailing – jumping off or letting go of the board
Baggies – Loose boardshorts/boardies
arney – An inexperienced surfer
ackside – Riding a wave when a back is towards the wave
Beach Bum – A person/surfer who spends a lot of time at a beach
Beach leech – Someone who keeps borrowing others gear for surfing
Benny – Not a local surfer
Betty – Old-school word to describe a female surfer
Boardies – Boardshorts
Bodysurfing – Surfing the waves with your body only. Generally performed by using swim fins
Booger – Boogieboarder, bodyboarder
Bottom turn – A maneuver done at the bottom of the wave to turn back up
Bogging – Staying too far back of the board surfboard makes the board stalls and slow down
Blue room – The space and view under the breaking wave
Bro – Brother, a friend, brah
Burn – To steal other surfers wave, drop in on someone


Carve – A sharp turn at the edge of the wave
Caught inside – Inside, A surfer who has got stuck inside the unsafe breaking point
Charge – Aggressive type of surfing. Charging
Chowder – A floating turd
Clucked – Being scared of waves
Cutback – A maneuver where a surfer turns back at the wave towards the breaking point
Cutting off – Surfing the wave that somebody was already surfing

Dawn Patrol – Early morning surf session
Drop-in – Dropping on a wave that someone is already surfing. Burn
Drop – A maneuver where a surfer drops down the steep face of a wave
Duck diving – Diving under the upcoming wave with a surfboard
Dude – A cool enough person who is into board riding sports. Snow, surf or skateboarding

Duck dive

Fakie – Riding with the tail part of the surfboard in front
Far Out – Surf expression which means overly unexpected
Flippers – Fins used for swimming, boogie boarding
Floater – Riding the top of the wave and turning down again
Frontside – Surfing a wave when facing the wave
Frube – A surfer who does not catch a wave the whole session
Fins out – A maneuver where the fin/s are out of the water after a sharp turn

Eat it – Getting wiped out by a wave
skimo Roll – Turtle roll. Flipping with the board sideways to dive under the incoming wave
Endless Summer – A series of classic surf movies. Must watch for every surfer

Goofy – A surfer surfing with a right foot forward
Goober – A longboarder or a longboard
Going off – Good surfing conditions at a surf spot
Grubbing – Falling off the board when surfing
Grommet/grom – A young surfer
Grom mom – Soccer mom type of mother of a young surfer

Hang five/ten – A style of riding the longboard with five / all ten toes over the nose of the board
Hang eleven – Hang ten naked, performed by a male surfer
Hang loose – The meaning of shaka
Heat – A competitive part in surf contests

Indo – Indonesia. A group of islands in South East Asia. Surfing mecca

Kahuna – A talented, master surfer. Word comes from Hawaii
Kick out – A maneuver of finishing the ride and going over the top of the wave
Kook – An inexperienced surfer who thinks he/she is good


Layback – An advanced maneuver where a surfer lays down on the breaking wave when making a turn
Late takeoff – The latest time to start surfing
Landlord – A shark
ine-up – A spot in the ocean where surfers line up to catch the waves
Lip – Tip or the edge of the breaking wave
Localism – Territorial behavior at a surf break
Logger – A surfer riding a longboard
Long John – A long-legged wetsuit and no arms.
Locked in – When a surfer gets caught in the incoming breaking wave
Lull – A time between the sets where the waves don’t break
Licked – Getting wiped out by the wave

Natural – Natural foot, a surfer who rides a board with a left foot in front

Men in grey suits – Sharks

Peak – A spot in the ocean where waves peak both ways
Pearling – Nosediving the board when leaning too much forward
Pitted – Barreled
Pop-up – Rising movement on the board. From paddling to a stand
Priority – Right of way surfing the wave. Whoever is closer to the peak and surfable section of the wave
Pumping – Up and down movements on board to generate speed, also meaning for a good swell. Surf’s up

Rash Guard – A special shirt used to prevent getting the chest-rash from rubbing on the waxed board
Regular / Regular foot – A surfer who rides the board with a left foot on the front
The Right of way – A surfer with priority to catch the wave – whoever is closest to the breaking wave
Rip – To rip. Masterful surfing

Shaka – Surfers hand gesture. Meaning hi, bye or hang loose
naking – A sneaky way paddling in and around the lineup to get the right of way catching the wave
Snap – Sharp turn off the top of the wave
Stall – Slowing down the ride or braking to catch up with the wave
Surf’s Up – When the weather is solid for surfing. A great swell is arriving
Switch-foot – A surfer who can surf with a left or right foot in the front
Swell – Movements of water in the oceans generated by winds. Swell running to a beach generates waves

Take off – An action where the surfer begins to surf the wave, after the pop-up
Tandem surfing – Two or more surfers riding one board
Tow-in – when a surfer is towed into a wave, generally used in big-wave surfing using jet-skis
Tombstoning – When a surfer is a deep enough underwater, and the leash is pulling the board underwater
Trimming – An action where the surfer is looking for the best section to gain speed on the wave
Turtle Roll – A technique where a surfer flips with the board to dive under the incoming wave


Wahine – A female surfer
Washing machine – Being held down and spun around underwater by a wave
ipeout – An accident where a surfer is falling off the board

Yew! – Yell surfers use to describe an upcoming wave or a great performance


Bellyboard – A bodyboard
Blank – A block of polyurethane foam that will be shaped into a surfboard

Crease – Damage to the board from an impact

Deck – The top part of the surfboard
ing – A crack or fracture in a surfboard

Epoxy – Type of surfboard material. A resin fiberglass alike mixture used to cover the foam blanks

Fin – A fin-shaped plug attached at the bottom tail-part of the surfboard. Designed for steering
Funboard – A mal, minimal. Mid-size surfboard. Something between a short- and a longboard
Foamboard – A tall and soft surfboard that generally beginner surfers use
FCS – Fin Control System. Type of removable fin system
Fish – A short, wide, and thick surfboard with two fins. Designed for having fun with some performance
Foil – A type of board that can be ridden on flat or shallow waves

Glass job – Fiberglass finish on a surfboard
un – A long and narrow board designed to ride big waves

Leash – A cord attached to the board. Between surfers leg and the board. Leggie
Longboard – Type of surfboard. Long, thick and wide with a round nose, generally 8-10ft in size
Legrope – A Leash. Leggie
Log – A longboard

Mal – Funboard. Mid-size surfboard for fun

Paddle battle – A situation where two surfers are paddling towards the center of the becoming wave to gain the right of way

Rocker – The curvature of the board from tail to nose

Shaper – Surfboard designer. A person who shapes the board

Outline – the shape of a board from the tail to the nose

Quiver – A collection of boards a surfer has

Rail – The edge of the surfboard

Shortboard – A performance surfboard. Generally the length of the surfer
Skeg – A fin
Step-Down surfboard – A board choice for below average conditions
Step-Up surfboard – Bigger than average surfboard for xxl conditions
Stick – A surfboard
Stringer – The wooden part in the center of the surfboard. Designed for strength and flexibility
SUP – A stand-up paddleboard

Thruster – Three fin set-up on a surfboard
Twin-fin – A two fin set-up, generally seen on fish surfboards
Quad – A surfboard with four fins

Wax – A paraffin-based product used to increase the grip between the board and the surfer

WAVES dictionary

A-frame – A wave that breaks both ways, allowing the surfer to choose the direction of surfing
Backwash – When a wave sweeps up to the beach and returns to the ocean

Charging / Cranking – When a particular beach is getting a powerful surf
Close-out / Shut down – A wave that’s closing exactly towards the shore, and is not rideable.  The wave is breaking straightforward, not sideways
Crest- The highest point/top of the wave
Corduroy – A set of incoming waves in a distance
Curtain – An outside part of the barrel
Curl – The area of the wave where it’s breaking


Banks – A sandbank at a beach break
arrel – A wave that tubes when breaking
Beach break – A wave that breaks at a beach, generally over sandy bottoms known as sandbars
Bono – A tidal bore
Bomb – A larger or a heavier wave out of the regular set

Double up – Two waves that come in together out of the ordinary set

Face – Front of the wave that’s about to break
roth – Whitewater that has been generated by a broken wave
Foamie – A wave with lots of foam

Groundswell – A perfect swell that has traveled thousands of miles. 15+ second wave period
the Green room – The inside of the tube or a barrel
Going off – Charging

Hollow – A wave that barrels. Allows riding the wave inside of the famous tube

Left / Lefty / Left-hander- A wave that breaks towards the right (when looking from behind the wave)
Right / Right-Hander – A wave that breaks towards the left side

Hawaiian scale – Underestimated way of measuring waves by Hawaiians
Heavy – Big, powerful waves

Impact zone – An area where the waves are breaking

Keg – Barrel, tube

Lip – The sharp edge of the breaking wave in a barrel

Off the hook – Good waves and forecast

Party wave – More than one person riding the wave
Peelers – A type of wave that peels smoothly when breaking, perfect for longboards
it – The most hollow part of the barrel
Pocket – Most potent part of the wave
Point break – A surfable spot in the ocean that has a rocky bottom
Pumping – When the waves are great, perfect weather for surfing

Reef break – A wave that breaks over a shallow reef or a rocky bottom
Rip / Rip Current – A dominant spot in the ocean where the incoming water flows back into the sea
Rogue wave – Unexpected, a suddenly appearing huge wave way over the forecast

Sandbank – Solid sandy formation at a beach break that allows producing great waves by swells
ection – Rideable part of the wave
Set – A group of waves. Wave train
Set waves – A group of waves regularly more massive than the usual within the set
Shoaling – Effect by which surface waves entering shallower water change in wave height
Shore break – A wave that breaks very close to the beach line
Shoulder – Unbroken section of the wave, a surfable area
Slab – Heavy reef break where water comes from deeper water into very shallow waters
Soup – The foam from the broken wave, whitewater
Spit – Spray of water that exits at the end of a tube or a barrel
Surging wave – A type of wave that does not break due to the fast-moving from deep to shallow waters
Swell – Collection of waves moving away from a storm in the ocean

Line up

Tidal wave / Tidal bore –  A massive movement of water formed by the funneling of the incoming tide into a narrow bay or a river
Tsunami – A destructive wave caused by an earthquake, landslide, underwater explosion, etc
Tube – Barrel. The shallow section of the wave

Wave train – A group set of waves
Wave period – The time in seconds between the two consecutive waves on a set
Wavelength – The distance between two waves in a set
Wedge – A steep wave
Whitewater – See soup
Windswell – A group of waves generated by the local winds in the 1000mile radius

WAVE HEIGHT dictionary

Knee High – A wave that gets up to the rider’s knees.
Thigh High – Waves that get up to the rider’s thigh.
Waist High – A wave that’s up to the waist.
Stomach High – Wave that is up to the rider’s chest.
Chest High – A wave that’s up to the height of the chest.
Shoulder High – Waves that are up to shoulder height.
Head High – Waves that are as high as the surfer.
Overhead – A wave that gets higher than 6 feet. 2 feet overhead means another 2 feet above the surfer’s height.
Double Overhead (DOH) – Waves that are twice as high as the rider. 12ft +
Triple Overhead – Waves that are three times the height of an average rider. 18ft +

Flat – A condition with no waves to surf
Ankle buster – Small waves

An extensive list of understanding the wave height can be found on the turf research. Have a look!


Glassy conditions
Glassy conditions

Blown away – A good forecast ruined by wind
Choppy – Windy conditions
Clean – Ideal conditions where the formation of the ocean looks neat
Firing – Going off
Glassy – A weather where the water looks clean as glass. The condition with no wind or little wind (nulltuul conditions, null=zero, tuul=wind)
Gringo hour – When the surf is gnarly
Heavy – A powerful swell
Mushy – Slow waves
Pumping – When the good swell has reached the break and you can hear the waves breaking
Sunset glass-off – A glassy condition right during the sunset
Synoptic chart – Shows weather conditions


The wind is the second important factor or element that affects the quality of the surf. Since swells generate waves and swell on the other hand by the winds on the oceans – there is a different kind of winds that affect the final form, and they are onshore, cross-shore or the offshore.

Onshore wind – A wind that blows from the water towards the shore. Onshore wind will ruin the quality of the wave by blowing off the nicely carved edges by the swell

Cross-shore wind – Wind that blows sideways on the shore
Offshore wind. Offshore wind is the best for surfing – since it will blow from the land towards the ocean – pushing the water and giving the final stages of waves – the most desirable shape.
Choppy – An unconstant blow of wind that can ruin nice and glassy conditions. Bad conditions.

There you go, we hope this article helped to increase your vocabulary, and you could feel more confident in a group of experienced surfers. A surfers terminology, surfing slang, or what not this would be called, is getting updated now and then so make sure to check back sometime.