Surfer lingo: You may recognize the words—but what do they mean? Duck diving to the line-up? Kicking out after some kook dropped in your tube? Uhhh… come again?
Maybe the last time you eavesdropped on surfers at the beach has left you more than a little confused. Or maybe you’ve just taken up surfing and want to avoid sounding like a total grom. Either way, you’re in the right place.
Double up: when one wave combines with another, creating a twice as powerful wave
Lip: the curled part of a wave
Line-up: the spot where you catch waves, right behind where the waves begin breaking
Set: a group of (usually large) waves coming in to shore
Tube: also called the barrel, this is the hollow, curved part of a wave, where you want to surf
Blown out: bad, mushy surfing conditions caused by onshore winds
Corduroy: a series of wave swell lines that resemble the aforementioned fabric
Flat: unsurfable waters with no waves to be found
Glassy: very clear waves that look like glass
Gnarly: forceful, extreme waves that are both exhilarating and dangerous
Fin: a curved, rudder-like device under the board that helps control direction
Leash: a cord usually attached to the ankle to keep the board near the surfer
Longboard: usually 9-12 feet in length, best for beginners and a classic and relaxed style of surfing
Rocker: the curvature running along the bottom of a board
Shortboard: usually 5-7 feet in length, best for advanced surfers and a high energy style of surfing
What’s the difference between longboards and shortboards? Click here to find out.
Aerial: when you maneuver your surfboard into the air and land it back onto the wave and keep riding
Cross-stepping: a footwork maneuver that involves shifting your weight up and down the board
Hanging ten or hanging five: surfing with one or two feet on the nose of your longboard
Hit the lip: turning the surfboard upwards to meet the crashing lip of the wave
360: turning the board (you guessed it) 360 degrees in a full circle on the wave’s face
Bottom turn: turning at the bottom of a wave to gain momentum and direction to set up a trick or maneuver
Cutback: a turn on or in the wave so you can get back to the surf line
Duck dive: a quick way to get to the line-up by diving under an incoming wave with your board
Kick out: a move used to intentionally exit a wave
Pop-up: when you stand quickly from a kneeling or paddling position a board to catch a wave–hard to master, but totally necessary
Dropping in: also called “snaking”, this is a surfing faux pas where one surfer gets in the way of another surfer already riding a wave
Fin chop: being hit by the fins of a surfboard
Locked in: when a surfer is caught underneath a breaking wave
Wipeout: unintentionally falling off your board… it happens to the best of us
Over-the-falls: one of the most dangerous kinds of wipeout, where you are sucked backwards over a breaking wave and down the lip to sea floor
Dude/Dudette: a friendly name for a fellow surfer
Kook: a derogatory term for a beginner surfer who causes trouble for other surfers by getting in the way or snaking waves
Grom: shortened from “grommet,” an Australian term used to describe an inexperienced or young surfer (it’s the not-insulting counterpart of ‘kook’)
Logger: someone who surfs on a longboard
O.G.: stands for Original Gangster, a term used to describe an older, skillful, and respected surfer
Now that you know your line-ups from your pop-ups and your kick outs from your wipeouts, you’re ready to aerial on some gnarly sets!
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