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The Surfers Dictionary: A-Z

Surf Tales General

The Surfers Dictionary: A-Z


N 52° 22′ 12.778″  E 4° 53′ 42.605″ 

I was about 11-or 12 years old when i decided that I wanted to learn how to surf. I searched the internet for information about the first steps i should take to break into the surfing world. It was clear to me that a lot of online information about surfing is aimed at experienced surfers.

Terms such as “point break”, “undercurrents” and “left handers” were used constantly and i had no clue as too what any of these terms meant. I just wanted to know what the most suitable spots are for beginning surfers. There is a high chance that many of you will sooner or later have to deal with the same problem. That is why we want to give you guys a helping hand with a list of the most used surf terms worldwide. Surfers all over the world are unified by the way we talk to each other. We hope you join us in the line up soon, Enjoy!


The Surfer’s Guide to Surf-Lingo

Key: Essential Surf Terms for Beginners

Aerial:  A surf move where the surfer breaks free from the waves and leaps into the air off the lip while surfing.
A-frame:  A wave that breaks on both sides (both left and right), giving it a perfect ‘A’ shape.
Alaia:  A surfboard made of wood, similar too those used by the Hawaiian people in the late 18th century.
Aloha:  A Hawaiian greeting that means “hello” or “goodbye”.
Backside : When a surfer is surfing with his back to the wave.
Backwash:  When a wave hits the beach and then returns to the ocean.
Bailing: Leaving the surfboard prematurely.
Barrel: Also called a ‘Tube’, or a curling wave, this is the most desirable of waves for elite surfers and can often be quite rare.
Beach break: Waves that break due to a sandbar off the coast, unlike a reef break.
Beach bum: A person (often a surfer) who likes to hang out on the beach.
Bodysurf:  The sport of surfing while lying down with the help of flippers, conducted closer to shore and in shallower waters.
Bogging: When the nose of the board is lifted because the surfer is too far back on the board, indicative of bad foot position.
Bottom turn:  When a surfer turns at the bottom of the wave, often after ‘dropping in’.
Bro: Brother or Mate, the most popular greeting among surfers.
Carve: A sharp turn on the water surface, demonstrates stability and style in surfing competitions.
Chop: Bumpy conditions of the ocean, often because of a lot of offshore winds.
Corduroy: The view of a series of waves in the distance.
Crest: The top and therefore the highest point of a wave.
Cutback: When a surfer “turns back” to the most powerful part of a wave to gain momentum.
Dawn patrol: An early morning surfing session.
Deck: The top of the surfboard.
Ding: crack in your surf board – which, in many cases, can easily be fixed, even by yourself
Drop: The moment just after getting up on the board, but just before the first turn.
Duck Diving : The technique whereby the surfboard is pushed under the waves, to get through the breaking waves more easily.
Fin: The vertically mounted “wings” on the back of a board that provide stability and direction.
Flat: No waves, so no surf.
Flats: The horizontal part at the top of the waves, also known as the “shoulder”.
Foam: The “white” water, where the wave has already broken.
Foam board: A surfboard for beginning surfers, with an exterior made of foam.
Frontside:  When a surfer surfs with his face to the wave.
Glassy: When there is no wind, so that the waves are not affected.
Goofy foot: A surfer who surfs with his right leg in front.
Grommet: A young surfer.
Gun: A long surfboard, developed for surfing on very high waves, the board of choice for Big Wave Surfing.
Hang loose: A Hawaiian expression for a relaxed lifestyle
Hang Ten: Get all ten toes on the front of the surfboard while surfing, specifically for Long boarders.
Haole: A Hawaiian word for “stranger”.
Heat: The rounds in which competitors battle during a surfing competition.
Inside: The area where the waves end.
Kahuna: A surfing “wizard” or “magician”.
Kick out: The movement that is made at the end of a “ride” to leave the wave.
Knot: A “knot” = 1 nautical mile per hour.
Leash: The cord that secures the surfer to his surfboard. 
Lineup: The spot in the water where surfer are lined up to catch the waves. This place is just behind the breaking waves.
Lip: The curly part of the wave.
Localism: When a group of local surfers aggressively defend their “own” surf spot against outsiders.
Longboard: A long surfboard and a separate discipline within surfing.
Lull: The time between sets of wave with no waves breaking.
Mack: A big wave.
Mental: “disturbed” or crazy wave that is uncharacteristic to the area.
Mysto spot:  A surf spot that breaks on a far-lying ocean reef, often hidden from the view from the beach.
Neoprene: A highly stretchable material made of rubber that almost all wet suits are made with.
Offshore wind:  Wind is blown from land to ocean, making the wave nicely curled and keeping the water smooth. Ensures good surfing conditions.
Onshore wind: Wind that is blown from the ocean to the land. Causes poor surfing conditions
Outline: The shape of a surfboard from nose to tail the shape of the surfboard from nose to tail.
Outside: Where the waves begin (also called the line-up).
Paddle battle: The race between two or more surfers too first pick up the wave.
Peak: A spot in the ocean where the wave breaks on two sides.
Pearling: What happens when the weight of a surfer leans forward too much, causing the nose to dive under water.
Perfect 10: A perfect ride during a competition.
Pit:  The most hollow part of a tube or barrel.
Polyurethane: The material used to fabricate a surfboard.
Point break: A wave that breaks along a rocky point or headland, creating a long wave along the coast. Under the right conditions, a very long wave can occur
Popup: The rapid movement with which you stand on the board by stepping between your hands and raising up.
Rail: The edge of the surfboard.
Reef break: A wave that breaks over rock or coral.
Reflection: When a wave’s direction is changed by a hard object in the ocean.
Refraction:  The effect that the speed of a wave decreases when encountering shallow water
Regular foot: A surfer with his left leg forward.

Chris

I am a Journalist, Photographer & Musician from North London. I arrived at SurfaWhile after finishing my Masters in Ancient History at the University of Amsterdam. I aim to find and write about the hidden gems of the surfing world to inspire your next surf holiday as well as interviewing exiting talents in our international surf community.

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