Surfer Slang: Finally, Understand Surf Lingo & Terminology

Last Updated on May 16, 2024


A-frame - a wave shape resembling a peak that breaks both left and right with equal force.

Aggro - refers to aggressive surfing or a surfer with an aggressive style.

Air or Aerial - a maneuver in which the surfboard leaves the surface or the water/wave during a jump.

Akaw - an abbreviation for "awesome" or "cool."

Amped - the feeling of excitement and being pumped up about surfing.

Ankle slappers - waves that are too small to ride, barely reaching the surfer's ankles.


Backdoor - the act of surfing inside a tube or barrel, approaching it from behind the peak of the wave.

Bailing - jumping off the surfboard into the water to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

Barney - a derogatory term for a surfer who is inexperienced, untalented, or not cool.

Barrel - also known as a tube, the hollow part of a breaking wave, highly sought after by surfers.

Beach break - locations where waves break over sandbars.

Benny - a non-local, someone who is not from the area where they are surfing.

Bitchin' - slang for something awesome, amazing, or great, often used to describe waves.

Bodyboard - a small board ridden on the belly, also known as a booger, boogie board, dick dragger, or clam dragger.

Bomb - a term for a massive, powerful wave.

Bottom turn - a crucial maneuver performed at the bottom of the wave, setting the tone for the ride.

Break - when the swell of the water transforms into waves and white water; also the name for a particular spot to surf.

Bro - a term used to address a fellow surfer. Male.


Carve - a sharp turn made on the face of a wave.

Caught inside - being trapped between the shoreline and the breaking waves.

Charging - aggressively going for a wave with determination.

Choppy - rough and uneven waves caused by windy conditions.

Chunder - waves that are completely unsurfable.

Clam Dragger - a female bodyboarder, a term sometimes used derogatorily.

Clean wave - a smooth wave with no turbulence or bumps.

Closeout - when a wave breaks suddenly and all at once, making it impossible to ride.

Clucked - feeling scared or intimidated by the waves.

Crease - damage to the surfboard caused by impact.

Crest - the highest point of a wave, the topmost part.

Curl - the section of the wave where it is breaking.

Cutback - a sharp surf maneuver done on the wave's shoulder or flats to return to the surf line.

Cutting off - the act of catching a wave in front of another surfer who had priority, often referred to as "snaking."


Dawn patrol - going surfing early in the morning, typically at dawn.

Deck - the top surface of a surfboard.

Dick dragger - a derogatory term for lying down on a board while riding a wave, often used for bodyboarders.

Ding - any damage sustained by a surfboard.

Double up or humpback - when two waves combine, with a larger wave closely followed by a smaller one.

Drop - the initial descent down the face of a wave when starting a ride.

Drop-in - similar to cutting off, refers to taking a wave in front of another surfer, also means dropping down the face of a wave.


Greenroom or Inside The Greenroom - the interior of a barrel, the hollow part of a wave when it is breaking.

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

Grubbing - falling off the surfboard while surfing.

Gun - a big wave surfboard designed for riding large waves.

Gurfer - a girl or female surfer.


Hang Eleven - a humorous term 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 edge.

Hang Loose - the gesture of making a shaka sign, a salutation often associated with surf culture.

Hang Ten - riding a surfboard with both feet placed on the nose of the board and all ten toes hanging over the edge.

Header - falling off a surfboard from the front, head first.

Heavy - refers to big, powerful waves that can be challenging and sometimes dangerous.

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, resulting in the surfboard being slammed back down.

Hodad - a person who hangs around the beach but does not surf.

Hollow - referring to barrels or tubes, the section of the wave when it is hollow and breaking.


Impact zone - the area where waves break the hardest and can be hazardous, especially for beginners.

Inside - the area between the shore and the impact zone.

Into the soup - inside the foam or white water of the wave.


Jacking - when a wave rapidly increases in size as it approaches shallower waters.

Jake - a surfer who inadvertently gets in the way of more experienced surfers.

Juice - the power of the wave.

Junkyard dog - a surfer with poor style.


Keg - another term for a barrel or tube, also used to describe something that holds beer after surfing.

Kick out - finishing a ride by exiting the wave, either by going over the back or through the wave.

Kneeboard - a special type of board meant for riding while on the knees.

Kook - a derogatory term for a rookie surfer or someone who isn't skilled at surfing.


Layback - a surfing maneuver where the surfer leans backward on the wave. Also known as a Larry layback.

Leash - a cord or strap that attaches the surfer's leg to the surfboard.

Left - a wave that breaks on the surfer's left side, from the peak.

Line up - the area in the water, away from the swell, where surfers wait for their turn to catch a wave.

Lines - the approaching swell as it moves towards the shore.

Lip - the uppermost part of a wave, right before it breaks.

Localism - hostility displayed by local surfers towards non-local surfers.

Locked in - when a surfer gets trapped inside a crashing wave.

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

Lull - a period of calm between sets of waves.


Macking - describes huge waves breaking or when the surf conditions are exceptionally fun and powerful.

Making the drop - successfully catching a wave and positioning oneself on the lower part of the wave's shoulder to ride it.

Maxed out - refers to waves that are too large, causing them to break suddenly and completely.

Men in grey suits - a humorous way of referring to sharks.

Messy - describes irregular and unpredictable waves with no distinct form.

Mini Simmons - a surfboard hull design style invented by Bob Simmons.

Mullering - wiping out or having a bad fall while surfing.

Mush/Mushy/Mushburger - refers to soft, non-surfable waves that lack energy.


Namer - a surfer who reveals a secret surf spot to others, possibly leading to overcrowding.

New school - refers to modern, innovative, and trick-oriented surfing styles.

Noah - another word for a shark, referring to the biblical story of Noah and the animals on his ark.

Noodle arms - describes tired or weak arms after an intense surf session.

Nose - the front and pointed part of the surfboard.

Nose guard - a rubber tip or accessory meant to protect the nose of the surfboard from damage.

Nose riding - a longboarding maneuver where the surfer rides on the nose (front) of the board.

Nug - a term used to describe a good wave, indicating it's a great find. Often large in nature.


Off the lip - refers to a surf move where the surfer performs a re-entry off the top of the wave.

Offshore - describes winds blowing from the shore towards the ocean, creating favorable surfing conditions.

Onshore - refers to winds blowing from the ocean towards the shore, which can make the surf conditions choppy.

Outside - the area beyond the lineup, away from where the waves are breaking.

Outside break - the furthest point from the shore where waves are still breaking.

Over the falls - when a surfer goes over the lip of a wave and falls into the face of the wave.

Overgunned - when the surfboard is not suitable for the current surfing conditions, usually too big or too advanced.

Overhead - when a wave's height is taller than an average surfer.


Paddlepuss - a person who plays in the whitewater close to the shore and is afraid to venture into bigger waves.

Party wave - a wave that multiple surfers are riding together.

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

Pearl - when a surfer buries the nose of their surfboard into the wave, often causing them to fall.

Peeling - describes a wave breaking perfectly with a clean and smooth shape.

Pig dog - a surfing position where the surfer grabs onto the rails of the board while inside a barrel.

Pintail - a surfboard tail shape that is ideal for riding hollow waves.

Pit - another term for the barrel of a large and powerful wave.

Pit Dive - when a surfer doesn't make the drop and ends up diving into the bottom of the wave.

Pocket - the powerful section of a barrel or a powerful wave where a surfer aims to position themselves.

Pointbreak - a type of wave that breaks around a point of land, usually creating long and consistent waves.

Pop up - the motion surfers make to transition from lying on the surfboard to standing up and surfing.

Pounded - when a surfer falls or gets consumed by a wave and gets a beating underwater.

Pull in - turning the surfboard up to enter a barrel or tube.

Pumping - describes excellent and exciting surfing conditions, often with consistently good waves.


Quimby - a beginner surfer who is often annoying to more experienced surfers.

Quiver - a surfer's collection of different surfboards for various surfing conditions and styles.


Racy - describes a fast surfable wave, ideal for gaining speed and making maneuvers.

Rad/Radical - slang for awesome and impressive surfing, indicating a high level of skill.

Rails - the sides of the surfboard.

Rail bang - an incident where a surfer's board is accidentally taken between the legs while falling. It can also refer to one surfer's board hitting another surfer's board on the rail while riding a wave.

Raked over - getting pounded by strong waves while paddling out to catch a wave.

Re-entry - a maneuver where a surfer goes through or over the lip of the wave and then goes back into the wave.

Regular footed - a surfer who rides with their left foot forward, which means they face the wave on left-breaking waves.

Ricos - a term used to describe waves that are rich and perfect, meaning they are of high quality.

Right - a wave that breaks on the right side of the surfer when facing the shore, from the peak.

Riptide - a stretch of water that is particularly turbulent and has strong currents.

Rock dance - the movements made by surfers as they navigate through a rocky section when exiting the water.

Rocker - the curve or bend of the surfboard from nose to tail.


Section - a location in the water where the waves aren't breaking, and surfers are waiting for their turn to ride.

Set - a series of waves that are approaching the lineup one after another.

Shacked - riding a great, big barrel, although not completely enclosed by the barrel, with the lip just overhead.

Shaka - a hand gesture used by surfers, made by extending the thumb and the little finger while keeping the other fingers curled.

Shape - a term used to rate the quality of breaking waves, with perfect shape referring to waves breaking evenly.

Shore break or shorepound - waves that mostly break right on the shore, making them difficult to surf.

Shoulder - the unbroken part of the breaking wave, adjacent to the barrel or critical section.

Shove-it - a surf maneuver where the surfer moves the surfboard (180 or 360 degrees) beneath themselves while riding a wave.

Shubie - a person who buys surfboards and surf clothing but does not surf, often used derogatorily.

Sick - slang for astounding, impressive, and amazing surfing.

Sketchy - a term used to describe bad form or technique while surfing.

Slotted - a surfer who is well-positioned inside a barrel or tube wave.

Snaked - slang for getting cut off on a way that you had priority on.

Soft board - a surfboard with a soft surface, designed primarily for beginners and safety.

Soup - referring to the whitewater or foamy part of a wave.

Spat out - the action of a surfer exiting a barrel alongside air and foamy water.

Spit - the water that gets sprayed out from a barrel when a wave breaks.

Sponger - a derogatory term for a bodyboarder.

Stall - a surf move meant to slow down the surfboard, often used to set up for maneuvers.

Stick - another word for a surfboard.

Stoked - feeling pumped, extremely happy, and excited, often used to express enthusiasm for surfing.

Sucking dry - the action performed by powerful breaking waves that expose the seabed due to their force.

Surf camp - a surf vacation package that includes accommodation and surfing instruction.

Surfer's knots - swellings on the front side of the leg, below the knee, resulting from kneeling on the surfboard while waiting for a wave.

Swell/Groundswell - refers to surfable waves, particularly those caused by distant storms or swells generated far out at sea.


Tail - the backside or rear of the surfboard.

Take off - the action of catching a wave and starting a ride.

Through - refers to the bottom part of the wave as it begins to break.

Tombstoning - a situation where a surfer is wiped out and sinking below the surface while their surfboard bobs up and down connected to them through a leash.

Tow in - a technique used by big wave surfers where they are towed into the wave by a jet ski to access larger waves that are difficult to paddle into.

Tube - another term for a barrel, describing the hollow part of a wave.

Tubular - slang for awesome, great, or radical, often used to describe an impressive wave or surf session.

Turtle roll - a technique used to get a surfboard to go through a breaking wave while the surfer hangs on to the rails, fully submerges, and allows the surfboard's fins to become visible. Most often performed on a longboard.

Twin fin - a type of surfboard with two fins, providing a unique surfing experience.


Victory at Sea - describes waves that are big and unrideable, likened to conditions shown in the movie of the same name.


Wall - refers to the face of the wave.

Washing machine - the situation of getting rolled around underwater by a breaking wave.

Wave hog - a surfer who is unwilling to share waves with others and consistently takes more than their fair share.

Wax - a substance applied by surfers to their surfboards to provide traction and prevent slipping.

White water - the broken, foamy part of a wave, often encountered after it has broken.

Wipeout - the act of falling off a wave while surfing.

Worked - getting knocked off the surfboard by a wave and subsequently being caught in the washing machine.

Dan L

Dan is the founder and editor of SwellSpy and frequently surfs Sebastian and Ft. Pierce inlets. He loves classic Land Rovers, a good BBQ, and an uncrowded peak with friends.

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