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Glossary of surfing

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Title: Glossary of surfing  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Surfing, Billabong XXL, Surfers Against Sewage, Big Wave World Tour, Shoulder surfing (surfing)
Collection: Glossaries of Sports, Sports-Related Lists, Surfing, Surfing Terminology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Glossary of surfing

This glossary of surfing includes some of the extensive vocabulary used to describe various aspects of the sport of surfing as described in literature on the subject.[1][2] In some cases terms have spread to a wider cultural use. These terms were originally coined by people who were directly involved in the sport of surfing.


  • About the water 1
  • Techniques and maneuvers 2
  • Accidental 3
  • About people 4
  • About the board 5
  • Clothing 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • External links 9

About the water

  • Beach break: An area where waves that are good enough to surf break just off a beach, or on a sandbar farther out
  • Blown out: When waves that would otherwise be good have been rendered too choppy by wind
  • Bomb: An exceptionally large set wave
  • Choppy, chop: Waves that are subjected to cross winds have a rough surface (chop) and do not break cleanly
  • Close-out: A wave is said to be "closed-out" when it breaks at every position along the face at once, and therefore cannot be surfed
  • Face: The forward-facing surface of a breaking wave
  • Flat: No waves
  • Gas chamber: The effect when a big wave rolls over, enclosing a temporary horizontal tunnel of air with the surfer inside
  • Glassy: When the waves (and general surface of the water) are extremely smooth and glossy, not disturbed by wind
  • Gnarly: Large, difficult, and dangerous (usually applied to waves)
  • Line-up: The area where most of the waves are starting to break and where most surfers are positioned in order to catch a wave[3]
  • Off the hook: A positive phrase meaning the waves are a very good size and shape
  • Outside: The part of the water's surface that is farther from the shore than the area where most waves are breaking
  • Point break: Area where an underwater rocky point creates waves that are suitable for surfing
  • Sections: The parts of a breaking wave that are rideable
  • Set waves: A group of waves of larger size within a swell
  • Shoulder: The unbroken part of the wave
  • Shorey/shore break: A wave that lasts all the way to the shore before crashing
  • Surf's up: A phrase used when there are waves worth surfing
  • Swell: A series of waves that have traveled from their source in a distant storm, and that will start to break once the swell reaches shallow enough water
  • Whitewater: After the wave has finished breaking, it continues on as a ridge of turbulence and foam, the whitewater
  • Stoked: happy, excited

Techniques and maneuvers

  • Air/Aerial: Riding the board briefly into the air above the wave, landing back upon the wave, and continuing to ride [3]
  • Bail: To step off of the board in order to avoid being knocked off (a wipe out)
  • Bottom turn: The first turn at the bottom of the wave
  • Carve: Turns (often accentuated)
  • Caught inside: When a surfer is paddling out and cannot get past the breaking surf to the safer part of the ocean (the outside) in order to find a wave to ride [3]
  • Cross step: crossing one leg over the other across the board (usually to make it to the nose)
  • Cutback: A turn cutting back toward the breaking part of the wave
  • Drop in: Dropping into (engaging) the wave, most often as part of standing up
  • Duck dive: Pushing the board underwater, nose first, and diving under an oncoming wave instead of riding it
  • Fade: On take-off, aiming toward the breaking part of the wave, before turning sharply and surfing in the direction the wave is breaking
  • Fins-free snap (or "fins out"): A sharp turn where the surfboard's fins slide off the top of the wave
  • Floater: Riding up on the top of the breaking part of the wave, and coming down with it
  • Goofy foot: Surfing with the left foot on the back of board (less common than regular foot)
  • Hang Heels: Facing backwards and putting the surfers' heels out over the edge of a longboard
  • Hang-five/hang ten: Putting five or ten toes respectively over the nose of a longboard
  • Off the Top: A turn on the top of a wave, either sharp or carving
  • Pearl: Accidentally driving the nose of the board underwater, generally ending the ride
  • Pop-up: Going from lying on the board to standing, all in one jump
  • Pump: An up/down carving movement that generates speed along a wave
  • Re-entry: Hitting the lip vertically and re-reentering the wave in quick succession.
  • Regular/Natural foot: Surfing with the right foot on the back of the board
  • Rolling, Turtle Roll: Flipping a longboard up-side-down, nose first and pulling through a breaking or broken wave when paddling out to the line-up (a turtle roll is an alternative to a duck dive)
  • Smack the Lip / Hit the Lip: After performing a bottom turn, moving upwards to hit the peak of the wave, or area above the face of the wave.
  • Snaking, drop in on, cut off, or "burn": When a surfer who doesn't have the right of way steals a wave from another surfer by taking off in front of someone who is closer to the peak (this is considered inappropriate)
  • Snaking/Back-Paddling: Stealing a wave from another surfer by paddling around the person's back to get into the best position
  • Snap: A quick, sharp turn off the top of a wave
  • Soul arch: Arching the back to demonstrate casual confidence when riding a wave
  • Stall: Slowing down by shifting weight to the tail of the board or putting a hand in the water. Often used to stay in the tube during a tube ride
  • Switch-foot: Having equal ability to surf regular foot or goofy foot (i.e. left foot forward or right foot forward), like being ambidextrous
  • Take-off: The start of a ride
  • Tandem surfing: Two people riding one board. Usually the smaller person is balanced above (often held up above) the other person
  • Tube riding/Getting barreled: Riding inside the hollow curl of a wave


  • Over the falls: When a surfer falls off the board and the wave sucks him or her up in a circular motion along with the lip of the wave. Also referred to as the "wash cycle", being "pitched over" and being "sucked over"
  • Wipe out: Falling off, or being knocked off, the surfboard when riding a wave
  • Rag dolled: When underwater, the power of the wave can shake the surfer around as if he/she were a rag doll

About people

  • Grom/Grommet: A young surfer [3]
  • Hang-loose: Generally meaning "catch that wave" or "well done". This message can be sent by raising a hand with the thumb and pinkie fingers up while the index, middle and ring fingers remain folded over the palm, then twisting the wrist back and forth as if waving goodbye, see shaka sign
  • Kook: A wanna-be surfer of limited skill

About the board

  • Blank: The block from which a surfboard is created
  • Deck: The upper surface of the board
  • Ding: A dent or hole in the surface of the board resulting from accidental damage
  • Fin or Fins: Fin-shaped inserts on the underside of the back of the board that enable the board to be steered
  • Leash: A cord that is attached to the back of the board, the other end of which wraps around the surfer's ankle
  • Nose: The forward tip of the board
  • Quiver: A surfer's collection of boards for different kinds of waves
  • Rails: The side edges of the surfboard
  • Rocker: How concave the surface of the board is from nose to tail
  • Tail: The back end of the board
  • Wax: Specially formulated surf wax that is applied to upper surface of the board to increase the traction so the surfer's feet do not slip off of the board


See also


  1. ^ Finney, Ben; Houston, James D. (1996). "Appendix A-Hawaiian Surfing terms". Surfing-A History of the Ancient Hawaiian Sport. Rohnett, CA: Pomegranate Artbooks. pp. 94–97.  
  2. ^ Guisado, Raul (2003). "Appendix A-Glossary of Surfing Lingo". The Art of Surfing: A Training Manual for the Developing and Competitive Surfer. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press. pp. 165–0170.  
  3. ^ a b c d Miller, Scott D.; Mark Hubble; Seth Houdeshell (2003). "Glossary of surfing terms". Staying on Top and Keeping the Sand Out of Your Pants: A Surfer's Guide to the good life. Deerfield Beach, FL: Heath Communications. pp. 139–140.  
  • Surf Terminology: What it Means to Smack the Lip

External links

  • List of terms
  • Another list of terms
  • More
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