Surf Lingo A-Z


  • A-FRAME- A wave that breaks both right and left.
  • AERIAL– To go airborne and land back on the same wave.
  • AIR TO FAKIE- To get air, rotate midair, then ride backwards down the wave.
  • ANKLE BLISTERS– Small waves.
  • BACKDOOR– To pull into a tube from behind the peak.
  • BARNEY- A novice.
  • BARREL- The hollow covered portion of a wave forming tube.
  • BLOWN OUT- Poor surf conditions due to high winds.
  • BOWL- As a wave breaks outside and peels inside the foam ball reforms into another wave over the inside sandbar/reef. This wave is usually steeper than the outside section and offers a bowl (or tube) section once reformed.
  • CARVE- A sharp turn.
  • CAUGHT INSIDE– A surfer who is repeatedly getting caught on the inside foam section and having hard time paddling out of the wave.
  • CHANNEL- place where the ocean floor dips deeper than the surrounding area. Deeper water results in smaller waves, making it easier to paddle out in a channel.
  • CLEAN UP WAVE- A wave or set of waves that break further offshore than normal and allow surfers to paddle out farther, thus “cleaning” out the group of surfers caught inside.
  • CLOSE OUT- When a wave breaks all the way down the line, breaking in every spot simultaneously preventing a long ride.
  • CREST- The top of the wave, also the lip.
  • CURL– Section of the wave face that curls over, right before it breaks.
  • DROP IN– To steal a wave out of turn( to snake a wave) or to ride down the face of the wave after catching the wave.
  • FACE OF THE WAVE– the unbroken section of the wave. The broken section is the foam ball that moves toward shore.
  • FLOATER– A loose ride or drift on top of a wave.
  • GOOFY FOOT- Style where the right foot is placed in front of the left foot on the board.
  • GROMMET- A young surfer.
  • GROUNDSWELL-Waves that were generated from storms that were offshore. These waves have traveled a greater distance to reach the shore than windswell waves and are generally thicker more powerful waves.
  • GRUBBING– Same as wiping out; to fall offf the board while surfing.
  • HANG TEN-Have all ten toes on the front (nose) of the board.
  • HOLLOW- Term used to describe a wave with a great tube section. The surfer can ride inside completely covered up by the wave. without having it break on him. Like riding in a tunnel.
  • IMPACT ZONE- Where the waves first break.
  • IN THE SOUP- To go over or through the back of wave in order to end a ride.
  • INSIDE- Anywhere between the shore and a breaking wave.
  • KICK OUT- To go over or through a back of a wave.
  • KOOK- Derogatory word for a novice.
  • LEFT- A wave breaking to the left from the surfers perspective.
  • LINEUP- The queue or line of surfers waiting to take a wave.
  • LIP-The top part where a wave is starting to break.
  • LOCALISM- Protection of surf spots by locals and /or for the existence of well established hierarchy on the waves based on experience and seniority.
  • LOCKED IN– Another term for surfing in the tube, and being covered up by the wave.
  • MUSHY-Weak breaking wave.
  • OFFSHORE– A wind from the shore blowing onto the ocean, usually resulting in great surf conditions.
  • OLLIE– Get air by hopping the board and lifting the front of the board.
  • OUTSIDE– Waves that break out further than most are said to be “outside.”
  • OVER THE FALLS- A wipe-out while going from the top to the bottom of a wave.
  • PEARL- To drive the nose of a board into the water to slow down.
  • PIT- The bottom and most hollow part of a tube or barrel.
  • POINT BREAK– An area where readable waves form around a piece of land or obstruction jutting out from the mainland, or a break forming around an island.
  • PRONE OUT– To pull out of a wave by lying down on the board.
  • QUASIMODO- To surf hunched over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • RE-ENTRY- Surfing the to of the wave(the lip) getting air, and then back into the wave.
  • RIGHT- A wave breaking to the right from the surfers perspective. From the beach , a right is a left breaking wave.
  • RIPPING-Making any series of fast action surf moves while riding a wave; also to surf at peak performance.
  • SCATTERED PEAKS- Condition when a wave has broken lines and multiple peaks, with separate readable areas (shoulders), usually because of clashing swells or overlapping periods.
  • SET- A group of similar waves, usually used to describe a series of good waves.
  • SHOOT THE CURL- Surf through a barrel.
  • SHOULDER-The about to break portion of a wave, also called a corner.
  • SHREDDING-Aggressive surfing.
  • SWELL – A group of waves coming onshore that were originally formed in deep waters by wind, also describes waves coming through after a storm.
  • TRIM- Gliding across the wave face.
  • THROUGH- The bottom part of the wave that is not breaking.
  • TURTLE- A maneuver to get under a wave by flipping upside down while pulling the board underwater.

See you at the beach!



2 responses to “Surf Lingo A-Z

  1. Surfbutler, how did you get so educated in ocean/surf terminology? I have learned a lot from your posts and I am from the beach! Love it!!

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